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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

ResMed Cannot Compete, So It is Pursuing an Embargo of the Competition Using Patents on Masks

Tuesday 4th of September 2018 09:34:07 AM

Published two days ago: Qualcomm and AMD Want ‘Innovation’ by Embargo

Summary: As ResMed resorts to patent litigation against Fisher & Paykel it turns out that what it’s really pursuing is market monopoly — to the point of reaching out to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), not just a District Court

AT the very end of last week ResMed spoke of patent litigation against a rival, Fisher & Paykel. It is reaching out to the ITC with USPTO-granted patents (i.e. of very questionable quality, probably still worse than those granted by the EPO). ResMed's patent lawsuit was covered here on Sunday. It was announced in a press release posted simultaneously in several different Web domains (i.e. money spent to spread the message and maybe control/warp the narrative). Yesterday (a Monday, first day after/during a long weekend) some media caught up, with headlines such as “ResMed lodges patent infringement petition against Fisher & Paykel” and “Fisher and Paykel Healthcare patent battle resurfaces”. They mostly amplify the accuser while largely ignoring the defendant/accused. To quote from the first article:

ResMed, a tech-driven medical device firm, has lodged a patent infringement petition against New Zealand-based medical device manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.


“We will defend our intellectual property wherever necessary to ensure that patients worldwide continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve, and are confident that when the ITC and the District Court hear all the evidence, ResMed will prevail in these cases.”

ResMed is engaged in the development of medical devices and cloud-based software applications to better diagnose, treat and manage sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic diseases.

To quote from the second article:

The US company has filed complaints in the International Trade Commission and the US District Court in relation to Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s masks used in the treatment of sleep disorders.

It’s asking the court to ban the import of the masks into the US as well as seeking damages.

ResMed made and then withdrew similar claims against Fisher and Paykel in 2017, but always said it would refile.

Companies that so quickly resort to embargo attempts are bullies; there’s no excuse for this unless life is at risk/in danger and this is in no way representative of “free market” ideals. It’s antithetical to many values supposedly cherished by modern capitalism.

Apple Suffers From Patent Trolls in the Eastern District of Texas Where Microsoft Uses Its Trolls (Connected to Intellectual Ventures) to Bully Apple, Linux/Android and Other Microsoft Rivals

Monday 3rd of September 2018 08:12:53 AM

Summary: A quick look at misguided sites which celebrate new patents of infamous patent bullies and the latest actions from patent trolls, including Microsoft’s own (Intellectual Ventures)

The connections between Dominion Harbor and Microsoft aren’t as blurry as Microsoft might have hoped. It’s not hard to see where this patent troll is receiving the lion’s share of its patents from. Microsoft uses trolls such as this to sell its ‘protection’ racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20]. We offered a new example of it only several days ago.

Microsoft’s new patents are being celebrated in Apple and Microsoft advocacy sites [1, 2, 3], where people like Christian de Looper and Apple fans (that celebrate Apple patents) take note of new Apple patents and/or patent applications [1, 2] never mind if Microsoft and Apple are both notorious for their patent aggression. Brand loyalty can blind some people.

To be fair to both, they are also on the receiving end of troll lawsuits. We hope that many such lawsuits can eventually compel them to rethink their stance on patents and their patent strategy.

As the mainstream media noted a few days ago, Apple might need to pay over half a billion dollars to just one patent troll. The Eastern District of Texas supports this particularly notorious patent troll, VirnetX, which targets large companies. Time to appeal for the Federal Circuit (or even SCOTUS perhaps) to step in?

There has been lots of media coverage such as “VirnetX +35.6% after judge denies Apple a new trial”, “VirnetX Receives District Court’s Final Judgment Affirming Jury’s Verdict of $502.6 Million”, and “VirnetX Holding Corporation: VirnetX Receives District Court’s Final Judgment Affirming Jury’s Verdict of $502.6 Million”. Here’s a portion from “Court Sides With VirnetX, Affirms $506 Million Judgment Against Apple” (there’s so much more about this news because it’s about Apple, which means the media can get ‘hits’):

VirnetX Holding Corp. (NYSEAMERICAN: VHC) announced Friday morning that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has affirmed an April 2018 jury verdict granting the company a $506.2 million award in a patent infringement case against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The court denied Apple’s request for a new trial in the case, and it also includes supplemental damages, a sunset royalty (paid when infringing products are phased out) and interest and costs.

What the media failed to pay as much attention to is a case that does not involve ‘famous’ Apple. It’s about fairly new patent which is abstract and was also asserted in the Eastern District of Texas. As Watchtroll put it:

The ‘748 patent itself is titled “System and Method for Data Management” and, according to the complaints, it “addresses the need to collect location-specific information on a variety of hardware and software platforms without the need to create separate and individualized software for each of the numerous manufacturers of remote computing devices.”


Additionally, the complaints preemptively make certain allegations regarding the patentability of the ‘748 patent, apparently assuming a validity challenge in this wonderful world of Alice in which we are all forced to live. The patentability allegations list technical problems ostensibly addressed by the ‘748 patent, possibly to frame the ‘748 patent as an improvement to computer functionality for future reliance on the Federal Circuit’s guidance in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016) that such improvements may be found non-abstract at step one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s two-step Alice framework for determining patent eligibility. The allegations regarding patentability found in Fall Line’s complaints also include statements that certain claim elements are not well-understood, routine, or conventional, apparently in case the ‘748 patent is held to be abstract and thus necessitating reliance on step two of the two-step Alice framework.


It’s also worth noting that even though the terminal disclaimer issue might be a fatal blow to Fall Line’s ability to enforce the ‘748 patent, Fall Line’s problems do not end there. The ‘748 patent has also had an inter partes review (IPR) instituted against it as of April 5, 2018, though the IPR was not instituted against Claim 1. Furthermore, petitioner Unified Patents did not challenge the validity of Claim 1 and so even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in SAS Institute v. Iancu back in April that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board does not have the authority to partially institute a petition for IPR against some but not all requested claims, Claim 1 looks like it will survive. But that’s not to say any of the defendants accused of infringement by Fall Line will refrain from filing their own IPRs to challenge Claim 1.

The inter partes review (IPR) would likely put this lawsuit to rest, but how much money will have been spent on lawyers by then?

It is meanwhile being reported in an article by Arthur W. Coviello, Richard Goldenberg and William G. McElwain from WilmerHale that Microsoft’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, suffers yet another CAFC setback:

Reyna, J. Vacating and remanding the PTAB’s IPR decision because the PTAB erred in not considering portions of the petitioner’s reply brief. Specifically, the PTAB erred in determining that certain reply arguments were improper new arguments under 37 C.F.R. § 42.23(b). The Court held that the petitioner’s reply arguments should have been considered because they cited “no new evidence and merely expand[ed] on a previously argued rationale as to why the prior art disclosures are insubstantially distinct from the challenged claims.”

Intellectual Ventures was also mentioned by Watchtroll’s Steve Brachmann a few days ago because CAFC was “remanding the case to the PTAB for further proceedings.” It happened last week, but the media mostly ignored it:

On Monday, August 27th, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in Ericsson Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures I which vacated a previous decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to uphold patent claims owned by Intellectual Ventures in light of an obviousness challenge from Ericsson.

The case (Ericsson Inc. v Intellectual Ventures) isn’t a new one; we’ve covered it before. It does show that Microsoft’s patent troll is still very much active; it’s a shame that almost no investigative journalists are left out there to properly cover it. All they seem to care about is traffic, so they focus on companies such as Apple.

RALIA, Inventor Protection Act, STRONGER Patents Act and Other Attacks on PTAB (Because It Raises the Patent Bar)

Monday 3rd of September 2018 06:33:37 AM

Lobbyists and bribed politicians still attempt to undo patent reform in Washington

Summary: Anti-PTAB legislations (whose sole purpose is to lower patent quality) try to make their way past common sense; the patent microcosm is boosting these while courts carry on doing their job, which nowadays more often than not involves rejection of erroneously-granted US patents

THE USPTO would almost certainly be granting patents like a patent-printing machine if it wasn’t for constant scrutiny from patent courts and groups like the EFF, CCIA and so on. Sadly, as we’ve just noted, 35 U.S.C. § 101 isn’t taken seriously enough by the Office. The new Director, a litigation person whose firm worked for Donald Trump, keeps trying to water it down. It cannot be done unless courts leave an opening/gap to be cherry-picked; as things stand, SCOTUS supports Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) and the Federal Circuit gave away nothing but Berkheimer, which the Director (Iancu) was happy to exploit irrespective of the facts (Berkheimer has not changed anything in the courts).

We’ve been carefully watching the latest attacks on patent quality. Watchtroll, for instance, was belatedly catching up with Click-To-Call at PTAB (among other news that may mean patent law firms will carry on rotting away). Robert Schaffer wrote about IPR time-bar* [1, 2] on a couple of occasions and together with his colleague Joseph Robinson he was covering the matters/affairs of the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in light of recent cases, such as this 35 U.S.C. § 285 case (typically about whether the accused gets awarded legal fees by the trigger-happy accuser). We’ve pretty much covered all these cases before or at least mentioned these in passing. Joseph Robinson wrote about another important CAFC case — one wherein we saw software patents invalidated by a high court. The defendant, BuySeasons, did a good job leveraging the law against US Patents numbers 6,035,294, 6,243,699, and 6,195,652 [1, 2]. Quoting Watchtroll:

On August 15, 2018, the Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidation of BSG Tech LLC’s (“BSG”) patents as ineligible subject matter. See BSG Tech LLC v. Buyseasons, Inc., No. 2017-1980, 2018 WL 3862646 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 15, 2018) (before Reyna, Wallach, and Hughes, J.) (opinion by Hughes, J.).

BSG asserted three patents with similar specifications that were directed to a “self-evolving generic index” for organizing information stored in a database — U.S. Patents No. 6,035,294, 6,243,699, and 6,195,652. The patents were “self-evolving” because users of the database could “add new parameters for use in describing items”, with guidance from the system, which would allow the database to be searched according to the new and existing parameters.

We generally prefer not to quote Watchtroll, but in order to understand what patent maximalists are up to it’s helpful to keep an eye on Watchtroll. Last week they used the term “IP Assets” in the headline (three lies in two words). Katharine Wolanyk generally alludes to universities using taxpayers-funded research to feed patent trolls that then attack the public as “Legal Finance” (what a breathtaking euphemism!). Her innovation seems to be that of euphemisms for bad practices that should be banned if not severely punished for (penalties, fines, maybe even sanctions).

Fenwick & West LLP’s Nina Srejovic and Charlene M. Morrow wrote a few days ago about IPRs in relation to appeals; This too was about a recent CAFC case. To quote:

The Federal Circuit further restricted a petitioner’s ability to appeal a decision by the Patent and Trademark Appeal Board upholding the validity of a patent. The court this month found in JTEKT v. GKN Automotive that a competitor who filed a petition for inter partes review could not appeal the PTAB’s validity determination because its product design was not definite enough to create a concrete and substantial risk of infringement or the likelihood of a claim of infringement. If this line of decisions stands, it will make it harder for competitors to clear the field of conflicting patents that they believe are invalid, as there would be no ability to appeal from an adverse Board decision.

They generally try anything they can to thwart PTAB and thus defend invalid/bogus patents from scrutiny. Gene Luoma, writing for Watchtroll yesterday (a Sunday), promotes the misleadingly-named “Inventor Protection Act” — one among several bills striving to take down patents like his. “This is why we need your support to help us restore our patent rights,” he concluded, mistaking patents for “rights” (they’re not rights, technically and legally speaking). He pleaded: “Please help us in our fight to pass H.R. 6557, the Inventor Protection Act, which has been introduced into the House of Representatives. After a decade of destruction of our patent rights, this bill restores patent rights to inventors like me who own their patents, helping us to continue supporting our families with the money earned from our inventions.”

This is nonsense. He also uses his disability to add an angle that has nothing to do with his patent/s; sympathy-garnering exercise at best. If his patent is worth what he believes, why should he fear PTAB? In our experience, people who loathe PTAB are those whose patents are of questionable quality (and deep inside they know it).

A few days earlier the American Enterprise Institute wrote about RALIA, another anti-PTAB bill. Michael Rosen from this patent zealots’ front group (American Enterprise Institute has always been misleadingly named) is trying to reduce patent quality and help patent trolls, not enterprises. Here is what he wrote (soon to be boosted by patent maximalists):

Shortly after several new patent reform bills were introduced in Congress over the summer, a new, even more radical piece of legislation has entered the scene.


RALIA would also rewrite the statute on patent eligibility, making it easier to obtain software and so-called business method patents, a process that the Supreme Court’s 2014 landmark Alice decision has strongly affected. The legislation contends that “the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence concerning subject matter patentability has harmed the progress of science and the useful arts” and loosens its strictures.

No, it does the exact opposite. But don’t let facts get in the way of career lobbyists.

Russell Slifer, part of the patent microcosm, then defines “bad” as what’s bad for the litigation ‘industry’. The lobbyists’ media of choice, The Hill, seems very happy if not eager to let these vultures do their lobbying. Slifer promotes the STRONGER [sic] Patents Act as follows: “One good place to start is the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act, H.R. 5340, introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.) and its companion Senate bill, S.1390, introduced last year by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). These bills address some of the negative unintended consequences of the 2011 America Invents Act. To truly return America as a world leader in intellectual property protection, Congress must resolve to reverse the Supreme Court and allow our new industries to protect their innovations in the U.S, not China and Europe.”

These are all just anti-PTAB bills whose net effect is reduction in quality assessment and decline in patent quality. They rely on the perception that there’s anger, that there’s a scandal, and that there are feuds.

Alluding to last month’s RPX setback and Judge Reyna’s role in an earlier case, McDermott Will & Emery’s Brian A. Jones wrote about news several months too late (almost two months). Why now? To quote:

Addressing whether an inter partes review (IPR) petition was time barred under 35 USC § 315(b), the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded a finding by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that the petitioner was not a real party in interest to the entity that had been served with an infringement complaint in district court more than one year earlier. Applications in Internet Time, LLC v. RPX Corp., Case Nos. 17-1698, -1699, -1701 (Fed. Cir. July 9, 2018) (O’Malley, J) (Reyna, J, concurring).

Applications in Internet Time (AIT) sued, a software company, for patent infringement. Salesforce was served with a copy of the complaint on November 20, 2013.


Judge Reyna wrote separately to point out an independent ground for vacating the PTAB’s decision, namely that it failed to address whether RPX was also a “privy” of Salesforce. A petitioner is time barred under § 315(b) from filing a petition more than one year after the “petitioner, the real party in interest, or privy of the petitioner is served with a complaint.” Judge Reyna explained that a number of additional factors must be considered to determine privity, including whether a legal relationship exists between the parties or whether one party acted as a proxy/representative for the other party. In the case of RPX and Salesforce, a contractual relationship existed, and RPX may have been acting as Salesforce’s proxy. Therefore, Judge Reyna would have instructed the PTAB to also thoroughly review whether RPX and Salesforce were in privity in these circumstances.

This is one of those rare PTAB cases where patent maximalists have something to gain. They will carry on cherry-picking and then boosting such cases. Knowing that politicians soon return to work (many come back tomorrow), they want to provoke them into endorsement of anti-PTAB bills.
* In his latest PTAB post, Kevin E. Noonan provided a more balanced interpretation, including some background:

Patent law has traditionally been considered to be fraught with traps for the unwary, which in practice just means that it is unwise to assume anything (see Carl S. Koening, “Clarifying Patent Terminology and Patent Concepts – An Introduction to Some Basic Concepts and Doctrine,” 15 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1 (1966)). Petitioner for an inter partes review proceeding, Vizio, Inc., v. ATI Technologies ULC suffered the consequences of one of those traps, when its petition for review of U.S. Patent No. 7,633,506 was deemed untimely under 35 U.S.C. § 315(b) because the petition was not filed within one year of Patent Owner filing suit against Petitioner Vizio. While a seemingly simple docketing matter, in this case the error arose over when (i.e., what date) the complaint was filed.

As set forth in the Board’s Decision denying institution, the facts are these. Vizio filed its IPR petition on February 1, 2017, one year after receiving the complaint. Patent Owner filed an affidavit of service, establishing that Patent Owner had mailed the complaint to Vizio on January 30, 2017. The question before the Board was whether the one-year time period under § 315(b) for filing an IPR petition ran from the date of mailing by Patent Owner or the date of receipt of the complaint by Petitioner Vizio.

To answer this question, the Board looked to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(h)(1)(A), which states that a corporation is served “in the manner prescribed by Rule 4(e)(1) for serving an individual.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(1) states that service on an individual under the Rules is done “following state law for serving a summons in an action brought in courts of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located” (or where service is made). Thus, the Board reasoned, the time and manner where service was accomplished was a matter of Delaware law (where the Patent Owner was incorporated).

Eligibility Analysis Based on Section 101 Ought to Invalidate All Software Patents and Repel Further Applications

Monday 3rd of September 2018 04:46:00 AM

Limits exist (and are being actively enforced) for a reason

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 does not seem to matter to examiners as much as it should; this means that courts and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) are typically left to clean up the mess or a clutter of wrongly-granted abstract patents

THE USPTO is still granting patents on software. It shouldn’t, but it does. All it accomplishes is lower legal certainty for US patents; how will that turn out at the end?

Alluding to computer games he once liked, patent maximalist Dennis Crouch wrote about prior art as a patent eligibility barrier:

A new petition for writ of certiorari focuses attention again on patent eligibility and the law-fact interplay. Real Estate Alliance Ltd. v. Move, Inc., SCT Docket No. 18-252.

The original focus of patent law is to “promote the Progress of . . . useful Arts.” In that vein, patents have long been awarded for inventions with concrete and practical uses — and barred to invention claims that are merely abstract ideas.


In this particular case, the courts have seen this issue as a question of law and have not really considered any hard evidence. The patent at issue is directed to a user interface that shows the geographic location of for-sale properties — using a zoomable interface. Although this idea might seem well understood today — the application claims priority back to 1986 — graphics were not so easy back then. (See Conan – my favorite game back then). U.S. Patent No. 5,032,989.

Prior art aside, there’s also Section 101 that essentially voids (or ought to void) pretty much all software patents.

A few days ago we learned about a patent on “game-like exercises to give a workout to the neuromodulatory systems in the brain that control mood.”

It was published as a promotional press release. Well, patents on computer games are just software patents (games are computer programs) so these are likely bunk patent pursuits. Did the USPTO really grant such patents? Maybe because they added big words like “neuromodulatory” and made the games sound like a science?

“Prior art aside, there’s also Section 101 that essentially voids (or ought to void) pretty much all software patents.”We are sad to see and regret to say that the USPTO still isn’t taking Section 101 seriously enough. See this other new press release [1, 2] from Numerify. Greed at the USPTO means that it keeps granting totally bogus software patents, in this case alluding to “AI and Machine learning capabilities” (still software). Seems like a game of buzzwords. This may spread elsewhere. See Thomas Prock’s new article about “medical app patents” — an article which was published with terms like “machine learning” and speaks of the UK. Never mind if British courts do not quite permit software patents so “medical app patents” would likely not be valid patents (even more so in the US after Alice/Section 101).

“Defining what constitutes technical innovation as far as apps go,” Prock wrote, “and what doesn’t, isn’t always easy, though based on well-established principles. Generally speaking however, the most patentable apps will be those that find technical solutions to the technical challenges of utilising healthcare data. It is expected that machine learning will play a significant role in this.”

“We worry that if the USPTO doesn’t get its act together and learns to reject software patents, then certainty, value and reputation of US patents will only decline further.”As is typical in Europe, the word “technical” is grossly overused and the term “app” is used instead of software. But what’s being described there has nothing to do with health (“healthcare data” is a case of trying to frame algorithms as “life-saving” because of data they can be applied to). There’s this other new report (cross-posted even [1, 2]) about an “Insulin Optimization System”; this one is at least not about software. We’ve already seen, e.g. at the EPO, attempts to associate software with “medical” just for the sake of tricking examiners. It’s the last case Patrick Corcoran dealt with before Battistelli crushed his career.

Speaking of “medical” patents, the notion that patents are inventions that improve lives (or are trophies) overlooks the fact that people invest in them with the intention to threaten, sue etc. The USPTO didn’t stay true to the goal of rewarding innovation; instead it’s about litigation and its new chief (the Director) is a litigation person, not a scientist. His appointment raises questions.

Patents are like an ‘insurance policy’ for corporations; when they have nothing left (but patents) they start to sue. ResMed must be failing pretty badly if it resorts to litigation like this, over facial masks patents. Among roundups of news we found this announcement [1, 2] late in the week:

ResMed (NYSE: RMD) (ASX: RMD), the world’s leading tech-driven medical device company and innovator in sleep apnea and respiratory care, today filed a petition with the United States International Trade Commission to stop the infringement of its patented technology by New Zealand-based medical device manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

So that’s what it boils down to: lawsuits. More money for lawyers.

The capital of patent trolls (east Texas) is meanwhile bragging about low-quality patents — software patents included — that are granted to potentially enable more patent blackmail. We worry that if the USPTO doesn’t get its act together and learns to reject software patents, then certainty, value and reputation of US patents will only decline further.

Cryptocurrency Patents Are Bogus (Abstract) Patents and Red Hat Ought to Quit Pursuing Blockchain (Software) Patents

Monday 3rd of September 2018 03:36:05 AM

The ‘patent-printing’ machine just carries on printing

Summary: With cryptocurrencies and with blockchains receiving a lot of buzz we’re also seeing patents being granted on them, never mind if such patents are clearly abstract and thus not patent-eligible

THE fact that when one says things like "blockchain" we're supposed to be astounded and impressed (and grant a patent) is deeply problematic. The USPTO certainly knows that these are abstract patents, but it grants these anyway. CryptoSlate (one among many sites that are cryptocurrencies-centric) reveals yet another cryptocurrencies patent; those are actually being granted, not just pursued (with an application). Bogus software patents are still being granted by the Office and there’s no sufficient public scrutiny.

There have been many articles like this one from Helen Partz about Bank of America’s “blockchain” patent applications and awards. Why don’t people point out that Section 101 would likely void these? Maybe they just don’t know about Section 101…

Here’s the more disturbing thing: Red Hat has become part of this problem. Cloud Pro and a few other publications mentioned that last week. Red Hat does not combat software patents (not anymore); Instead, Red Hat has become part of the problem and it is nowadays patenting “blockchain” stuff. It has been a long time since we saw Red Hat doing anything against software patents. Here’s one article among several on this subject:

Red Hat is reportedly considering using blockchain to track customer use of its cloud service in real time.

A patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office explains how the company would track transactions on its platforms to bill customers based on their usage. Because records in a blockchain can’t be changed, the data could be more accurate than using other methods.

“The examples record, in a blockchain, a billing rules transaction that identifies usage rules for one or more software instance types for a timeframe. Authorised transactions that identify software instances that have been authorised to execute during the timeframe are also recorded in the blockchain,” the filing explained.

How can Red Hat not see that it’s emboldening the USPTO to grant software patents?

Harish Pillay from Red Hat told me: “You are completely missing the point. It is a defensive patent needed to be done because the USPTO is broken.”

I responded with: “Who would that supposedly defend against and how?”

He never replied. So I assume he realised that this was going nowhere; not only do these Red Hat patents pose a considerable risk in case of a takeover (which is likely in the distant future); they also don’t counter-balance anything, certainly not when trolls confront Red Hat (which isn’t so unusual).

Monopolies Are Not Inventions

Monday 3rd of September 2018 02:28:00 AM

Summary: Pieces and articles that talk about patents frame the subject as “ownership” and “inventions” rather than monopolies and protectionism in exchange for a fee

TODAY’S ARTICLES will focus on the USPTO. Before we get to that, however, we wish to remark on a few misleading new pages and articles.

Among lots of things that call patents “Intellectual Property” (new example here) we found this new article about “patent mining” in Brasil. We’re supposed to think that research can be carried out by parsing patent texts. Nature Biotechnology published this:

Described in an article published in Nature Biotechnology, the method resulted from the postdoctoral research of biologist Cristiano Gonçalves Pereira at the University of São Paulo’s Ribeirão Preto School of Economics, Administration and Accounting (FEARP-USP), supported by a scholarship from the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP.

Pereira was supervised by Geciane Silveira Porto, a professor at FEARP-USP and coordinator of the Center for Research on Innovation, Technology Management and Competitiveness (InGTeC). The study featured collaborations from Virgínia Picanço-Castro and Dimas Tadeu Covas), respectively researcher and coordinator at the Center for Cell-Based Therapy (CTC), a Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center (RIDC) funded by FAPESP.

This does not actually suggest what the title says. Quite a few firms data-mine patent data in order to assess/calculate things like median pendency, names of assignees, keywords etc. But to actually study from patents using a computer? No, not really…

The Straits Times, which is connected to the government of Singapore, has just published this piece about the famous National University Hospital (NUH). It’s about assignees, not “owners” (as the headlines put it; Monopolies are not “owned”) and the Court of Appeal has decided to split the assignment of the said patent:

A court fight between the National University Hospital (NUH) and a software engineering company, over who gets to patent a system to manage the collection of patient samples, has ended in a draw.

Both NUH and Cicada Cube had worked together to develop the system, which allows samples to be collected from hospital patients in an automated manner for laboratory testing.

But a dispute over the patent went all the way to the Court of Appeal, where each side argued that it should be the sole owner of the patent because only their respective employees were responsible for the heart of the invention.

Meanwhile, over at the Israeli media (The Jerusalem Post), they still obsess over the number of patents even though patents are a poor measure of anything other than litigation (or intention to sue). To quote: “Israel has been one of the leading countries in the past eighteen years in terms of number of international patents filed via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) in relation to population size. The peak came in 2000, when Israel was ranked third in the world for patents filed per capita according to the country of the inventor, after Finland and Sweden. Today, Israel is fifth, after Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea. Finland has dropped to sixth. The data are from a new report by the National Council for Research and Development in the Ministry of Science and Technology.”

As we said many times before, usually in relation to Switzerland, patents are expensive to pursue, so it’s no wonder countries with more wealth per capita can get more patents. It is, overall, a poor measure of anything other than protectionism.

Links 2/9/2018: Linux 4.19 RC2 and DXVK 0.71

Monday 3rd of September 2018 01:45:45 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Dell Precision 5530 mobile workstation now available with Ubuntu

      All of the Dell Precision mobile workstations launched earlier this year are now available with a choice of Windows or Ubuntu Linux. Dell has announced that the Precision 5530 mobile workstation is the latest of its mobile workstation-class computers to be available as a Linux-powered Developer Edition computer.

      It’s currently on sale for $1185 and up.

      The starting price gets you a 3.9 pound notebook with a 15.6 inch display, an Intel Core i3-8300H quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, a 56 Whr battery, and a 1080p display.

      But the notebook can be configured with up to an Intel Core i9-8950HK hexa-core processor, up to NVIDIA Quadro P2000 graphics, up to 32GB of RAM, up to a 4K touchscreen display, up to a 97 Wh battery, and up to two hard drives or SSDs.

  • Kernel Space
    • Final weekly status update for Allwinner VPU support in mainline Linux (week 35)

      The end of August has arrived, bringing an end to Paul’s engineering internship at Bootlin, focused on bringing mainline Linux support for the VPU found on Allwinner platforms. Over the past six months, we have worked hard to reach the goals announced in the project’s crowdfunding campaign and we were able to deliver most of the main goals last month.

    • Bootlin Wraps Up Project For Improving Allwinner VPU Support On Linux

      The six-month internship at Bootlin that was crowd-funded for improving the Allwinner VPU support on Linux has drawn to a close with mostly achieving success.

      The €31,612 (~$36,737 USD) raised for improving the Allwinner VPU support has been exhausted now but they mostly accomplished what they set out to do. They were successful in getting the codec working for older Allwinner SoCs including the A10/A13/A20/A33/R8/R16, improving the existing MPEG2 decoding code, implementing H.264 video decoding, improving the driver’s presentation of presented frames, and working out H.265 video decoding support.

    • Linux File System/Structure Explained!

      Ever get confused where to find things in Linux and where programs get installed? I’ll explain what all the folders are for, and what’s in them!

    • ExtFUSE: Making FUSE File-Systems Faster With eBPF

      Georgia Tech tends to be home to a lot of interesting open-source projects and incubating long-term FLOSS/Linux developers. This university’s latest interesting open-source project is “ExtFUSE” for making user-space FUSE file-systems faster by making use of the in-kernel eBPF framework.

      Ashish Bijlani of Georgia Tech presented at this week’s Linux Foundation Open-Source Summit on the work they are pursuing for making user-space file-systems faster. The short explanation of what they are doing with this project called “ExtFUSE” is to provide an extension framework of a “thin” layer of handlers within the kernel that leverage the eBPF in-kernel virtual machine for speeding up some I/O operations.

    • Intel MPX Support Will Be Removed From Linux – Memory Protection Extensions Appear Dead

      Back in April was a discussion about dropping MPX support from the Linux kernel but no action taken. Now though an Intel developer is preparing to see this Memory Protection Extensions functionality removed from the mainline Linux kernel.

      Memory Protection Extensions (MPX) have been supported since Intel Skylake CPUs for allowing the checking of pointer references at run-time to avoid buffer overflows and other potential related vulnerabilities. While it’s able to increase security, it didn’t end up gaining much fanfare, requires support plumbed through the compiler and operating system, and some studies found software-based alternatives like AddressSanitizer to be superior. Intel also hasn’t invested too much into maintaining the Linux MPX support in recent years.

    • Amlogic Video Decode Driver Posted For The Linux Kernel

      In addition to the embedded Linux experts at Bootlin having worked on the Allwinner VPU open-source support this summer they have also been developing an Amlogic video decode driver for the Linux kernel.

      This open-source video decode driver is currently for the Amlogic GXBB/GXL/GXM chips and supports MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video decoding at this initial stage. They have support in future patches to bring support for MJPEG, MPEG-4, H.264, and HEVC video formats. Supported by the hardware but might come in the future to this driver is VC-1 and VP9 video decoding too.

    • Linux Kernel Vs. Mac Kernel

      Both the Linux kernel and the macOS kernel are UNIX-based. Some people say that macOS is “linux”, some say that both are compatible due to similarities between commands and file system hierarchy. Today I want to show a little of both, showing the differences and similarities between Linux Kernel & Mac kernel like I mentioned in previous Linux kernel articles.

    • A Batch Of x86 Speculation Fixes Headed To The Linux 4.19 Kernel

      Thomas Gleixner has submitted a batch of x86 fixes today to the Linux 4.19 kernel, which include several changes around the speculative execution vulnerability mitigations.

      The x86 speculation fixes for Linux 4.19 include making some checks more robust, a fix for the Foreshadow / L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) mitigation so it doesn’t get disabled on systems utilizing the full physical address space, a fix for the new 32-bit PTI support for Meltdown, and also another fix.

    • Linux 4.19-rc2

      As usual, the rc2 release is pretty small. People are taking a
      breather after the merge window, and it takes a bit of time for bug
      reports to start coming in and get identified. Plus people were
      probably still on vacation (particularly Europe), and some people were
      at Open Source Summit NA last week too. Having a calm week was good.

      Regardless of the reason, it’s pretty quiet/ The bulk of it is drivers
      (network and gpu stand out), with the rest being a random collection
      all over (arch/x86 and generic networking stands out, but there’s misc
      stuff all over).

      Go out and test.


    • Kernel prepatch 4.19-rc2

      The 4.19-rc2 kernel prepatch is out for testing.

    • Linux 4.19-rc2
    • Linux 4.19-rc2 Released As A Small & Calm Release

      One week past the merge window of Linux 4.19 and the 4.19-rc1 release to close that off, Linux 4.19-rc2 is now available for testing.

      Linus Torvalds considers Linux 4.19-rc2 to be a “small” and “calm” release, due to many developers taking a short break following the merge window, the Linux Foundation Open-Source Summit taking place the past few days, and some Europeans being on summer holidays.

    • ​Linus Torvalds talks frankly about Intel security bugs

      At The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Linus Torvalds, Linux’s creator, and Dirk Hohndel, VMware VP and chief open source officer, had a wide-ranging conversation about Linux security, open-source developer, and quantum computing.

      Torvalds would really like his work to get back to being boring. It hasn’t been lately because of Intel’s CPU Meltdown and Spectre security bugs. The root cause behind these security holes was speculative execution.

      In speculative execution, when a program does a calculation, which might go several ways, the processor assumes several results and works on them. If it’s wrong, it goes back to the beginning and restarts with the correct data. Because CPUs are so fast these days, it’s much quicker to do this than to have the hardware sit idle waiting for data.

      Torvalds “loves speculative execution. CPUs must do this.” But, Torvalds is annoyed that “people didn’t think about the problems of taking shortcuts with speculative execution. We knew speculative work that wasn’t used had to be thrown away.” It wasn’t. That problem is now baked in most modern processors. The long-term fix is a new generation of Intel CPUs.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Amber Lake Graphics Support Added To Mesa Drivers

        While there is already Cannonlake and Icelake support within Intel’s Mesa drivers, the Amberlake support has just been merged.

        Amber Lake is the interim platform and the latest “14nm++” past Kabylake Refresh. Amber Lake and Whiskey Lake were announced this week with Whiskey being for the new Intel U-Series CPUs and Amber for the Y-Series CPUs in new 2-in-1s/convertibles, ultrabooks, fanless PCs, and other low-power systems.

      • Mesa 18.2 Should Now Be Clear For Releasing With Its Many OpenGL/Vulkan Improvements

        Mesa 18.2 ended up having two unscheduled release candidates due to open blocker bugs, but those issues have been cleared up and so this official quarterly update should be launching soon.

        Mesa 18.2-RC5 was released on Wednesday due to two blocker bugs still persisting around an OpenGL Piglit regression as well as a performance regression, both affecting Intel hardware. But on Friday night it was confirmed that two new patches resolve those blockers and pass Intel’s extensive validation suite. Thus Mesa 18.2.0 is cleared for landing.

      • AMDVLK Linux Driver Updated For Vulkan 1.1.82, Conservative Rasterization

        The AMD developers responsible for maintaining the “AMDVLK” Vulkan driver that shares common code with their Windows driver have done another weekly code push of their newest bits.

        With the XGL code drop this week there is now updates for Vulkan 1.1.82 where as previously Vulkan 1.1.77 was the exposed API version. Vulkan 1.1.82 was released at the end of July with various updates.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KaOS 2018.08 Released As One Of The Great KDE Linux Distributions

        KaOS 2018.08 has been released as the newest stable ISO spin of this built-from-scratch, Arch-inspired Linux distribution that offers a first-rate KDE Plasma desktop experience.

      • KDE Itinerary – Data Extraction

        After the overview of KDE’s travel assistant components we are going to look at one part in particular here, the booking data extraction. The convenience and usefulness of the overall system depends on being fed with accurate and complete data of when and where you are going to travel, ideally fully automatically.

        The data we are interested in is essentially everything you’d want to see on a unified itinerary for a trip. Flight and hotel bookings probably come to mind first, but there’s also event tickets, restaurant reservations, rental cars bookings, bus tickets, etc.

        The primary source of that information is, like for the commercial alternatives, incoming email. However we want to run this locally, under the user’s control, so the entry point for us is the email client. My email client is KMail, so that’s what we have a plug-in for, but there is nothing in the KItinerary library that’s specific to that (or Akonadi), integration with other email clients is very much possible.

      • My first Akademy

        I am glad I got a chance to attend this year’s Akademy. I wanted to understand how open-source orgs like KDE work and Akademy did help me understand it to some extent.

        There was a lot of excitement when I started my trip but the long flight and the heat wave had sucked all the energy out of me. Anyway, a good night’s sleep and the pleasant weather during the pre-registration event got my excitement back again.

      • KDE Seeing Samba Integration Fixes & Improvements

        Those of you dealing with files stored on Samba shares while accessing them from the KDE desktop will soon see a variety of improvements to that experience.

        KDE Frameworks 5.50 is bringing a variety of improvements for dealing with Samba from now properly saving files to Samba shares that were originally mounted via GNOME GVFS, guess access for Samba shares created by the Dolphin file manager work again, KDE applications potentially crashing when using smb://, and various other improvements are also on the way. Also coming is a fix for a critical issue as well as a silent data loss bug.

      • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 34

        Amazing how time flies. We’re already on week 34 for KDE’s Usability & Productivity reports!

      • Akademy 2018 experience

        This year’s Akademy, the annual world summit of KDE, was held in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria, from 11th to 17th August, 2018. The 7-day event was divided in two parts, with the first 2 days being mostly keynote addresses and different talks by KDE contributors, followed by 5 more days BoFs, and workshops. Just like every other KDE event, this one was also as awesome as it could get.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GNOME 2.30rc2 (2.29.92) RELEASED

        The second release candidate for 3.30 is here! Remember this is the
        end of this development cycle, enjoy it as fast as you can, the final
        release is scheduled next Wednesday!

      • GNOME 3.29.92 Released As The Final Step Before Next Week’s GNOME 3.30 Desktop

        Friday night marked the release of GNOME 3.29.92 that serves as the second and final release candidate ahead of next week’s GNOME 3.30 six-month desktop update.

        This release is the final chance to test out the new GNOME packages ahead of the official release next Wednesday. Given the feature freeze has been in effect, the work isn’t all that exciting for RC2 but mostly bug fixing. But on the infrastructure side they have added i386 and ARMv7 jobs to their GNOME-Build-Meta repo and also merged the branch to now begin building GNOME Flatpak runtimes directly with GNOME-Build-Meta.

      • GNOME Keysign 0.9.9

        We have a new Keysign release with support for exchanging keys via the Internet.

        I am very proud to announce this version of GNOME Keysign, because it marks an important step towards a famous “1.0”. In fact, it might be just that. But given the potentially complicated new dependencies, I thought it’d be nice to make sort of an rc release.

      • Developer Center Initiative – Meeting Summary 23rd August

        On Thursday the 23rd August we held another Developer Center meeting. Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I was late to this meeting, but I will try my best to report on the events.

        We are on the verdict of making a technological decision and we have two proposals which currently is in debate, namely HotDoc and Vuepress (for now, Michael has expressed that he is currently unsure if he is able to commit the necessary time to work on the Django instance). This meeting we listed and agreed on a set of criteria, weighted after importance. These criteria has root in the list of challenges which was covered in a previous blog post. The purpose of having a list of criteria is to reach consensus on how to prioritize features in the proposed instances when we judge them.

        The next section will describe a few highlighted criteria that we weighted. You can find a full list of criteria here. Any input is welcome on the Gitlab thread.

      • GIR support in gnome-class

        Recently I’ve been working again in the rust port of libgepub, libgepub is C code, but in the rust-migration branch almost all the real functionality is done with rust and the GepubDoc class is a GObject wrapper around that code.

        For this reason I was thinking about to use gnome-class to implement GepubDoc.

        Gnome-class is a rust lib to write GObject code in rust that’s compatible with the C binary API so then you can call this new GObject code written with gnome-class from C. I’ve worked a little in gnome-class, implementing a basic properties support.

      • Taming Gnome 3 – theming and scheming

        As time goes by, the Gnome 3 desktop is becoming more and more restrictive in what it allows its users to do, fundamentally mistaking visual and functional minimalism, further complicating things by using a pseudo-touch interface that makes little sense on the desktop. Shame, because it doesn’t make much to have Gnome look and behave the part. I’ve written a whole bunch of guides explaining how you can regain some of the functionality (and sanity) back, and it’s time for another such article.

        First, please read the basics as I’ve outlined many months ago. Now, we will explore additional themes and options, additional extensions, and some other settings. Not all of this will bear fruit, but it’s an exercise that should ultimately give you the right pointers to using Gnome 3 effectively. Let’s roll.

      • GNOME Tweaks 3.30

        GNOME 3.30 will be released within a few days. That makes this a good time to showcase the improvements in GNOME Tweaks 3.30.

        One problem with moving power settings from Tweaks into Settings a year ago was that the Power panel only had one setting. GNOME Designer Allan Day suggested we use a new General panel to include the remaining power switch, the sound Over-Amplification switch, and the Animations switch.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Review: Redcore Linux 1806

        For the most part, my time with Redcore was disappointing and occasionally frustrating. Disappointing in that, apart from security enhancements, it does not seem as though Redcore has made any significant progress over the past year. Hardware support has not improved (if anything it has become worse for VirtualBox users) and I did not find any significant new features which would suggest the project is bringing new ideas to the community.

        Another thing which bothered me was the appearance of the distribution. While I liked the darker theme, the grey background without clear window borders meant that all application windows blended together. If I had three windows all open and overlapping on the desktop there wasn’t any way to tell where one ended and the next began. When combined with the smaller 9pt font that is used everywhere, it meant I had to tweak most visual aspects of the interface to make it suitable for my preferences and ageing eyes.

        There were some other minor problems. For example, sometimes the application menu would open at the bottom of the screen (next to its button) and other times the application menu would appear at the top of the display, far away from the mouse pointer. This unusual menu placement would continue until I logged out and signed back into LXQt.

    • New Releases
      • 4MLinux 26.0 STABLE released.

        The status of the 4MLinux 26.0 series has been changed to STABLE. Edit your documents with LibreOffice and GNOME Office (AbiWord 3.0.2, GIMP 2.10.6, Gnumeric 1.12.43), share your files using DropBox 55.4.171, surf the Internet with Firefox 61.0.2 and Chromium 68.0.3440.75, stay in touch with your friends via Thunderbird 52.9.1 and Skype for Web, enjoy your music collection with Audacious 3.10, watch your favorite videos with VLC 3.0.3 and mpv 0.28.2, play games powered by Mesa 17.3.7 and Wine 3.14. You can also setup the 4MLinux LAMP Server (Linux 4.14.64, Apache 2.4.34, MariaDB 10.3.9, PHP 5.6.37 and PHP 7.2.9). Perl 5.26.1, Python 2.7.14, and Python 3.6.4 are also available.

      • ExTiX 18.9 – “The Ultimate Linux System” – with LXQt 0.12.0, Refracta Tools, Calamares Installer and kernel 4.18.5-exton – a non-efi Build 180901

        I have made a new extra version of ExTiX – The Ultimate Linux System. I call it ExTiX 18.9 LXQt Live DVD. It is for non-efi computers and VirtualBox/VMware. I.e. you can use the Calamares Installer also in for example VirtualBox and VMware. Which means that you can install ExTiX in any language.

      • LibreELEC 9.0 Alpha Linux distro gets Kodi 18 ‘Leia’ Beta 1 update — download now!

        Let’s be honest — in a world with easy legal streaming thanks to inexpensive services like Netflix and Hulu, Kodi media center is probably used mostly by pirates. It is not likely the average consumer is storing video and music files locally to play on their TV — it simply isn’t worth the hassle these days. With that said, not all Kodi users are thieves — I am sure some are legally buying media for playback on the media software… maybe…

        Regardless of why you use Kodi (I’m not judging), the best way to experience it is through a Linux distribution that focuses on it. LibreELEC, for instance, is a lightweight distro that exists only to run the Kodi media center. It is quite popular with Raspberry Pi owners, but it runs on other hardware too, including x86_64 and WeTek boxes. Kodi 18 “Leia” recently achieved Beta 1 status, and as a result, LibreELEC 9.0 Alpha has been updated with it. In other words, the most bleeding edge LibreELEC now runs the most bleeding edge Kodi.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Continues Working On Transactional Updates With Btrfs

        While Red Hat and several other Linux vendors have either deprecated Btrfs support or at least not embraced it like they originally talked up this “next-gen file-system” years ago, SUSE has continued supporting Btrfs both with openSUSE and SUSE Linux Enterprise.

        SUSE continues shipping openSUSE/SLE with Btrfs on the root file-system and through that have been offering up some nifty features, including support for transactional updates.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in August 2018
      • Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities August 2018
      • Derivatives
        • Spend Labor Day Weekend installing Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 3 ‘Cindy’

          Linux Mint Debian Edition isn’t a very popular operating system. As you can imagine, the normal Linux Mint variant — which is based on Ubuntu — is used by far more people. It’s not hard to see why this is — the Linux Mint developers don’t really consider LMDE to be anything more than an experiment. You see, it serves as a contingency plan just in case Ubuntu development ever ceases.

          With all of that said, there’s no reason why users shouldn’t give Linux Mint Debian Edition a try. Today, just in time for Labor Day Weekend, LMDE 3 “Cindy” finally sees release. With many people enjoying a long holiday weekend, it is the perfect opportunity to install the rolling release distro and play around with it!

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Give Your Ubuntu a New Look Using Paper Theme

            This is how Paper GTK theme and icon theme looks and how to install in Ubuntu.

            Paper theme is a very calm and cool looking flat theme with very little shadow in depth effects. This theme was developed for modern GTK3 environments, that means you can install this in Ubuntu and its derivatives. The theme, however, not is development at the moment. But you can still download and experience this theme.

            Primary color of Paper theme is light-dark based and it will look good with its own Paper icon and cursor theme.

          • Who’s Using Ubuntu

            A look at who’s using Ubuntu and their hardware.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • Outreachy Had 41 Interns Complete Their Work This Summer

      In addition to Google’s Summer of Code recently having wrapped up, so have the Outreachy projects that also engaged in various open-source activities over the summer months.

      From May to August, Outreachy had 41 interns work on their projects. Outreachy still has plans to expand their reach to more under-represented groups in tech, but for this latest round it was available “internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Internships are also open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/[email protected], Native American/American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.”

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Syncing Exchange Server with Thunderbird 60 (again)

        A couple weeks ago Mozilla Thunderbird released version 60 and a lot of extensions became incompatible. Amongst them Exchange Calendar, an extension that allows to sync calendars, tasks and contacts with a Microsoft Exchange Server. That extension has served me well over the last years in my job where we have to use the Exchange Server. Unfortunately it seems that the extension will not be continued anymore, and I had to search for something else.

      • Pale Moon browser removed from my repository

        I have removed my contributed build of the Pale Moon browser from my package repository.

        The reason? Primarily the attitude of its developers. The main developer is ridiculing Slackware. When working on my initial SlackBuild script and trying to obtain approval to use their ‘official branding’ I had a seriously grim argument with the lead minion of the developer group and the lead maintainer had to step in to appease. That set me off on the wrong foot from the beginning, but I thought an alternative to Firefox would be beneficial to Slackware users, so I added the package and build script despite my misgivings.
        However, the above is not how a respectful relationship between developer and distributor works. Also, Moonchild refuses to mention me as a “contributed build” on the “contributed builds” page.

      • TenFourFox FPR9 available, and introducing Talospace

        TenFourFox Feature Parity Release 9 final is now available (downloads, hashes, release notes). There are no changes from beta 3 except for outstanding security patches. Assuming no changes, it will go live Tuesday evening Pacific due to the US Labor Day holiday.

        Allow me to also take the wraps off of Talospace, the new spin-off blog primarily oriented at the POWER9 Raptor Talos family of systems but will also be where I’ll post general Power ISA and PowerPC items, refocusing this blog back to Power Macs specifically. Talospace is a combination of news bits, conjecture and original content “first person” items. For a period of time until it accumulates its own audience, I’ll crosspost links here to seed original content (for the news pieces, you’ll just have to read it or subscribe to the RSS feed).

      • Mozilla changes Firefox policy from ‘do not track’ to ‘will not track’

        Mozilla says it will soon be modifying its Firefox browser to block all user tracking on websites by default.

        “In the near future, Firefox will, by default, protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites,” said Mozilla VP of product strategy Nick Nguyen.

        The move will see an initial trial of the feature in September and, should that work out, the Firefox 63 rollout will include a component to immediately block slow-loading trackers. By the time Firefox 65 is released, Mozilla says that it hopes to have all cross-site tracking blocked by default.

        The move means a shift by Mozilla from the more passive ‘Do Not Track’ system that relies on sites to recognize the notice and disable their trackers, to an active feature that will instead block tracking by default and require the user themselves to opt in to a website’s trackers.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • IT Science Case Study: How Walmart Embraced Test Automation, Open Source

      Here is the latest article in the eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

      Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

    • A simple picture language for GNU Guile

      One thing that I really love about Racket is its picture language, which allows you to play with geometric shapes in an interactive session in Dr Racket. The shapes are displayed right there in the REPL, just like numbers or strings. Instead of writing a programme that prints “hello world” or that computes the Fibonacci numbers, one could write a programme that composes differently rotated, coloured shapes and prints those instead.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Redis Labs changes license, Valve releases new Steam Play beta version, and more news

      Database developer Redis Labs changed the license on its database modules to limit “the ability of cloud providers to offer these Redis Modules to customers.”

      The new license “combines Apache v2.0 with Commons Clause, which restricts the sale of covered software.” Redis CTO Yiftach Shoolman “justified the license shift by saying that cloud providers benefit from open-source software while giving nothing back.” However, Redis stresses that its core database code is still under a BSD license.

      Although Redis defended this move as protecting open source, condemnation from the open source world was swift. Simon Phipps of the Open Source Initiative called this “an abrogation of software freedom,” while developer Drew DeVault said that Common Clause “presents one of the greatest existential threats to open source.”

  • Programming/Development
    • Vladimir Butenko 1962-2018

      Unfortunately, Butenko was not in with the open source. He used to post to Usenet, lampooning and dismissing Linux. I suspect once you can code your own Linux any time you want, your perspective changes a bit. This was a part of the way we drifted apart later on. I was plugging on my little corner of Linux, while Butenko was somewhere out in the larger world, revolutionizing computer-intermediated communications.

      He died suddenly, from a heart failure. Way too early, I think.

    • Rust pattern: Iterating an over a Rc<Vec>

      This post examines a particular, seemingly simple problem: given ownership of a Rc<Vec<u32>>, can we write a function that returns an impl Iterator<Item = u32>? It turns out that this is a bit harder than it might at first appear – and, as we’ll see, for good reason. I’ll dig into what’s going on, how you can fix it, and how we might extend the language in the future to try and get past this challenge.

  • First Ever Crash Of Apple’s Self-driving Car Confirmed In Silicon Valley

    According to a report filed with the California DMV, it has been confirmed that one of Apple’s self-driving cars recently met with an accident in Silicon Valley.

  • Science
  • Health/Nutrition
    • This is your brain on air pollution

      A study led by Beijing Normal University’s Xin Zhang and Yale’s Xi Chen took advantage of a powerful dataset to expand our knowledge on this question. Many previous studies have focused on students, comparing school testing results with regional air quality, for example. The new study used the results of a massive Chinese survey of more than 50,000 people who took standardized tests in 2010 and then again in 2014. Such “longitudinal” studies that follow individuals over time are excellent because you can compare a person to their own previous results. That’s better than using two groups of people whose differences you hope will average out.

    • Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says

      “Our findings about the damaging effect of air pollution on cognition,” the study concludes, “particularly on the aging brain, imply that the indirect effect on social welfare could be much larger than previously thought.”

    • Air Pollution Linked to Decline in Cognitive Performance

      The research team, led by Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University, found that exposure to increased levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulates smaller than 10 μm (PM10) were tied to lower verbal test scores (math scores to a lesser extent, and only when people were exposed for weeks or more). Exposure over longer periods of time correlated with larger drops in performance, and the effects were most pronounced for men and older people.

  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Syria reveals fate of people thrown into ‘slaughterhouse’ jails

      Visual artist and former prisoner Najah al-Bukai was tasked with transporting dead inmates to mass graves. He says the first body he lugged over to the pit was marked with a white card: corpse number 5,535.

    • Flying Drones To Be Legal From December 1, Use For Delivery And Transport Barred

      In good news for drone enthusiasts, individuals and companies can legally fly drones from December 1, 2018 in areas other than those barred for security reasons, regulations for use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) released by the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Monday.

    • As law-enforcement drones become more prevalent, Denver’s police and fire departments split on their use

      Growing fleet of public safety drones concerns some law enforcement critics who question how information is collected from the skies

    • CIA and Saudi Arabia Conspired To Keep 9/11 Details Secret, New Book Says

      t’s easier to bury uncomfortable facts than to confront them. So this September 11, the ceremonies marking the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., will simply honor the dead. In Manhattan, tourists and mourners will gather where the World Trade Center Towers once stood, lowering their heads in memory of the 2,606 who perished there. The services won’t reflect the view that the attacks might well have been prevented.

      But for hundreds of families and a growing number of former FBI agents, the grief of another 9/11 ceremony will be laced with barely muted rage: There remains a conspiracy of silence among high former U.S. and Saudi officials about the attacks.

      “It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about the movements of the future Al-Qaeda hijackers. To Soufan and many other former national security officials, the unanswered questions about the events leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks dwarf those about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, because “9/11 changed the whole world.” It not only led to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the fracturing of the Middle East and the global growth of Islamic militantism but also pushed the U.S. closer to being a virtual homeland-security police state.

    • Did CIA-Saudi keep 9/11 details secret? New book throws light on conspiracy theories

      As the world approaches September 11 this year, there still remains a conspiracy of silence among high former US and Saudi officials about the attacks. Though subsequent government investigations concluded there is no proof of official Saudi support for the attacks, unresolved American doubts about the US-Saudi alliance still persist.

      John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski’s book on 9/11, The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark, hopes to re-focus public attention on the cover-up of Saudi complicity in the affair. Thoroughly mixing the multiple official investigations into the event, Duffy, a left-leaning writer and environmental activist, and Ray, a documentary filmmaker, found huge holes and contradictions in the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.”

    • The recognition of the former agent of the CIA in the murder of Marley turned out to be fake

      Information about recognition bill Oxley was published in one of the infamous Fake News sites.

      Recognition of former CIA agent bill Oxley in the murder of Bob Marley turned out to be fake. It showed verification of information channel

      It was found that the information first appeared on the resource He, according to experts, is a well-known web site Fake News.

      Not so long ago on this site was published information about what Hillary Clinton is connected with the paedophile ring. At other times the information appeared that the US government planned the murder of Donald trump.

    • The CIA’s plan under Reagan: more covert action, more excessive secrecy

      The Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives include several copies of one of its long-term plans, produced in 1980 and originally classified SECRET. The copies of the Summary Report reveal two things about the Agency: it was, in the immediate lead-up to the Reagan administration, determined to expand its scope of operations and collections, and seemingly to increase its covert activities, and it’s either negligent or incompetent when it comes to figuring out what’s actually classified and deciding what files can be released.

    • Portsmouth lecturer’s new book will shine a light on secretive RAF drone warfare

      The Reaper Force has been at war continuously since it was created in 2007 – but it remains one of the most guarded and secretive military communities in the world.

      However, a University of Portsmouth (UoP) academic is set to publish an eye-opening book on the division after enjoying several years of unprecedented levels of research access.

      An international authority on the deployment of military drones, Dr Peter Lee – a former RAF chaplain – will release Reaper Force: The Inside Story of Britain’s Drone Wars on October 4.

    • The National Security Law Podcast: A Deep Dive into the Anwar al-Awlaki Case(s)
    • Asia’s Shifting Alliances

      “Boxing the compass” is an old nautical term for locating the points on a magnetic compass in order to set a course. With the erratic winds blowing out of Washington these days, countries all over Asia and the Middle East are boxing the compass and re-evluating traditional foes and old alliances.

      India and Pakistan have fought three wars in the past half-century, and both have nuclear weapons on a hair trigger. But the two countries are now part of a security and trade organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), along with China, Russia and most of the countries of Central Asia. Following the recent elections in Pakistan, Islamabad’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, has called for an “uninterrupted continued dialogue” with New Delhi to resolve conflicts and establish “peace and stability” in Afghanistan.

      Pakistan’s new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, is a critic of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and particularly opposed to the use of U.S. drones to kill insurgents in Pakistan.

      Russia has reached out to the Taliban, which has accepted an invitation for peace talks in Moscow on Sept. 4 to end the 17-year old war. Three decades ago the Taliban were shooting down Russian helicopters with American-made Stinger missiles.


      That’s it. That’s all it took to win Twitter for the day. Those four seconds of footage have been circulated around TV news stations to ‘ooh’s and ‘ahh’s of fawning establishment pundits yammering incessantly about how the death of War Hero John McCain™ has let everyone Put Aside Our Political Differences™ and Come Together As Americans™ to celebrate the life of a man who dedicated his entire political career to sowing death, suffering and devastation at every opportunity. A war criminal giving a piece of candy to the wife of another war criminal at the funeral of a war criminal is all it took to get mainstream American brains gushing with dopamine and oxytocin.

      Because that’s how compartmentalized Americans are from the reality of what war is and what it means. The explosions, the screams, the charred and shredded human bodies, the chaos and displacement and all the suffering, terrorism, slavery and rape that necessarily always comes with it, the million Iraqis killed under Bush, the unfathomable humanitarian disasters created in Libya and Syria under Obama, all the devastation created in all the military interventions McCain helped push for, all of that is so peripheral and distant in American consciousness that it can be dismissed with a wave of the hand and a piece of fucking candy.

      And it isn’t really their fault. The more woke Americans who’ve grown to resent their brainwashed countrymen hate it when I say this, but it isn’t. It’s not a coincidence that the nation with the most powerful military in the history of civilization and the most billionaires in the history of civilization also happens to have the most sophisticated propaganda system in the history of civilization, and that propaganda system is pointed at them from a very early age to normalize the war machine that is used to protect the empire of the billionaires.

    • Letter to CIA ‘unforgivable’, says Umno leader

      The letter written by former intelligence chief Hasanah Ab Hamid to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking support for the Barisan Nasional government is unforgivable, an Umno Supreme Council member said today.

      Lokman Noor Adam said it was an offence that could not be forgiven.

      “If she had done so, action must be taken. I have also received information from her office that someone in her office played her out by exposing the letter, so they could replace her.

      “Authorities must investigate. We cannot tolerate acts of treason,” he said at the 1Malaysia Merdeka picnic organised by opposition supporters at the Perdana Botanical Gardens here today.

    • ‘Spy’ chief’s letter to CIA unforgivable, Umno leader insists

      Soliciting a foreign power for political support is unacceptable, said Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam.

      Commenting on the controversy around a letter the former director-general of the Malaysian External Intelligence Organisation (MEIO) wrote to the US’ Central Intelligence Agency seeking support for Barisan Nasional, he said the move “is a mistake that cannot be forgiven”.

      While saying he was informed that the private letter was intentionally leaked to sabotage Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid, he stressed that she must be investigated if the document was authentic.

    • New Video Shows More Atrocities by Cameroon, a Key U.S. Ally in Drone Warfare

      Gunshots ring out as the troops advance down a dirt road. One of them, in full combat gear — helmet, camouflage uniform, automatic weapon — clowns for the camera and sticks out his tongue. A sergeant next to him says, in French, “This is a kamikaze mission!”

      It quickly becomes clear exactly what type of mission this actually is. It’s of the same type that soldiers carried out at El Mozote, El Salvador, in 1981, at My Lai, South Vietnam, in 1968, and at Oradour-sur-Glane, France, in 1944. It is a massacre. And it is filmed. This particular mass killing takes place in Cameroon, a key U.S. ally and staging ground for America’s drone operations in Africa. While the number of victims is likely smaller than other notorious mass killings, it’s the second atrocity video involving Cameroon’s armed forces to be made public this summer.

    • How the CIA started sniffing at the Guptas in 2009 already

      A report in the Sunday Times suggests that the US government was taking a keen interest in the influence of the Gupta family in South African affairs from as early as 2009.

      This US interest reportedly stemmed from the fact that the Guptas were intending to acquire interests in uranium mining. In later years, it became clear that the family was hoping to benefit from an expensive nuclear build programme being negotiated with Russia.

      The US government is notorious for keeping an eye on all things nuclear, particularly to contain the proliferation of such weapons globally.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Who Was Really Behind the Silencing of Julian Assange?

      Many have speculated on the reasons behind the silencing of Julian Assange and what country coerced Moreno or if the President of Ecuador did it on his own but the fact is that it really wasn’t over his tweets regarding Catalonia. Nor do I believe that Spain had anything to do with it. This article is to explain who I think was behind it and why. I may make some enemies over this but the truth needs to be told. It was the United States, but not who you may think. The Clintons had nothing to do with it. The CIA undoubtedly had their hands in it but the answer is surprising to some but not to those of us who have watched this story unfold.

    • Is the Mueller investigation preparing to indict WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange?

      The investigation by special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller into alleged “Russian interference” in the 2016 US presidential election is close to issuing an indictment against WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. That is the conclusion that can be drawn from a lengthy article authored by James Gordon Meek and Ali Dukakis and published on August 29 by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).
      James Gordon Meek is not just any journalist. He must be ranked as one of the prime conduits in the American media for the positions of the US intelligence, police and military apparatus. Throughout his now 25-year career, he has been repeatedly used by “unnamed sources” within the state to luridly report on a myriad of purported terrorism conspiracies that have been used to justify the military operations and anti-democratic outrages carried out under the pretext that the US is fighting a “war on terror.” From 2011 to 2013, he worked as the leading “counterterrorism advisor” to the congressional Committee on Homeland Security.

    • 4th online vigil for Julian Assange followed by Unity4J Day

      #Unity4J announces 4th online vigil followed by ‘Unity4J Day’ mass decentralised actions in support of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

      This weekend marks a historic milestone for worldwide supporters of the arbitrarily detained publisher Julian Assange.

      A dynamic new format for the highly popular Unity4J monthly online vigils is to be launched this coming Saturday, September 1st 2018, starting at 10am Eastern, 7am Pacific (2pm UTC).

    • The Torture of Assange: A Blight on the US Justice System

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been forced to spend nearly 3,000 days in solitary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. His crime? He isn’t charged with anything. But the neocons and warmongers in the US government want to put him in a box – or worse – for publishing government secrets. Wait…isn’t that what all journalists do? Yes, that is what they are supposed to do. So isn’t the persecution of Assange actually an attack on the free press? Yes. What can we do to help Assange? Our ideas in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

    • After retiring, CIA’s first director warned J. Edgar Hoover of Agency’s “corruption”

      A recently released copy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation file for Central Intelligence Agency Director Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter reveals that shortly after his retirement, Hillenkoetter admitted to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that elements of the Agency were corrupt.

      The relationship between Hillenkoetter and Hoover appears to have long been cordial and forthright, with the CIA Director repeatedly praising the Bureau and Hoover returning the compliment. Following Hillenkoetter’s retirement from the CIA in order to return to the Navy, he kept in contact with the Bureau, acting as both an informant and liaison, and at times using his position to expedite matters for the Bureau. One of the most historically significant moments shared between the FBI and Hillenkoetter came from shortly after his retirement, when he described the “blunder and corruption of OSS and certain elements of CIA” in a private meeting with Hoover, according to memos obtained by MuckRock.

    • From Ministry to Muckraking: The Biblical Basis for Investigative Reporting

      More than a dozen years ago I was a finalist for a reporting job at a small newspaper. All I needed to do was survive an interview with the top editor. The other editors warned me, saying their boss took perverse pleasure from smashing the hopes of naive reporters. I braced myself as he studied my resume. His lips curled into a sneer.

      To be fair, my job history was a tad unusual. I had spent five years in full-time ministry, including three as an evangelical Christian missionary in Kenya. Then there was my master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. There didn’t seem to be a lot of churchgoing, Bible-believing, born-again Christians like me working at daily papers.

      The editor scowled and said, “So what makes you think that a Christian can be a good journalist?”

      He emphasized “Christian” as if it were some kind of slur.

      I liked that he spoke his mind, but I was taken aback. I explained what I saw as a natural progression from the ministry to muckraking, pointing out that both are valid ways of serving a higher cause. The Bible endorses telling the truth, without bias. So does journalism. The Bible commands honesty and integrity. In journalism, your reputation is your main calling card with sources and readers.

      Obviously, many people have succeeded as reporters without strong religious beliefs. But I told him my faith had made me a better, more determined journalist. He replied with a noncommittal grunt. But I got the job.

    • NSA leaker asks Trump for pardon
    • NSA leaker says she’ll seek clemency; cites Trump calling sentence ‘so unfair’

      Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor recently sentenced to over five years in prison for leaking classified material to the media, will seek a reprieve from the White House in light of President Trump calling her punishment “so unfair,” she said Friday.

      Speaking by telephone from Lincoln County jail near Augusta, Georgia, Winner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she will ask Mr. Trump for clemency on the heels of him publicly criticizing the 63-month sentence she received last week for leaking a top-secret NSA report on Russian election meddling, the newspaper reported.

    • Encouraged by Trump’s tweet, NSA leaker asks president for pardon
    • An Online Vigil in Defense of Julian Assange With Daniel Ellsberg, Craig Murray, Bill Binney and Ray McGovern

      Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, on Saturday helped moderate a daylong chain of interviews in defense of WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange, including a discussion with Daniel Ellsberg.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Governor’s desk last stop to California pledging 100% carbon-free energy by 2045

      On Wednesday evening, California’s Senate passed SB 100, a bill mandating that utilities serving the state move to 100-percent carbon-free energy by 2045. If the Governor signs the bill into law, it will become one of the most aggressive in the nation, matching only Hawaii’s carbon-free by 2045 commitment.

      California’s bill specifies that any energy obtained outside the state can not contribute to additional greenhouse gas emissions from that state. The stipulation preemptively closes a potential loophole in which California could acquire cheap energy from polluting plants in border states.

    • Striking animation by Finnish researcher shows history of climate change

      So far, Lipponen has created two animated data visualisations about climate change – first in 2017 and most recently last week – showing the rapidly-increasing median heat spikes in countries across the world. In hyperspeed, his new animation shows how earth’s climate has changed over the course of more than a century.

    • Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment

      Mining these metals is a vital activity that underpins the modern global economy. But the environmental cost can be enormous and is probably far greater than you realise. Let’s walk through some of the key metals in smartphones, what they do, and the environmental cost of getting them out of the ground.

    • Aging cocoa trees provide opportunity for agricultural reform in Ghana

      Cocoa yields are declining as trees age across Ghana, the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer. But farmers who lease their land are reluctant to replant for fear of losing their right to farm. New written land agreements may be part of the solution.

    • Underwater drone could protect Great Barrier Reef by killing crown-of-thorns starfish

      The small submarine-like machines have been designed to eradicate crown-of-thorns starfish, listed as a major threat to the reef, using a lethal injection.

      Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology collaborating with Google and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation have designed the RangerBot.

  • Finance
    • Bank of America freezing accounts of customers suspected of not being US citizens

      His case isn’t unique. In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers’ accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S.. In July, the Washington Post reported that multiple customers had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump administration withholds 100K Kavanaugh pages

      Schumer said the decision to withhold the documents “has all the makings of a cover-up. … What are they trying so desperately to hide?”

    • Suggestions for Trump Supporters

      Decent people have to oppose Nazis. The Nazi belief system is based on the mass murder of people based on race and the murder of people who disagree with them. In Germany in the 1930s there were some people who could claim not to know about the bad things that Nazis were doing and they could claim to only support Nazis for other reasons. Neo-Nazis are not about creating car companies like VolksWagen all they are about is hatred. The crimes of the original Nazis are well known and well documented, it’s not plausible that anyone could be unaware of them.

      Mitch McConnell has clearly stated “There are no good neo-Nazis” [12] in clear opposition to Trump. While I disagree with Mitch on many issues, this is one thing we can agree on. This is what decent people do, they work together with people they usually disagree with to oppose evil. Anyone who will support Nazis out of tribal loyalty has demonstrated the type of person they are.


      I’ve had people refuse to disclaim racism when asked. If you can’t clearly say that you consider people of other races to be your equal then everyone will think that you are racist.

    • Why McCain Lost: a Flashback

      After a week of media fawning, flags racing up and down staffs, and memorials coast-to-coast, John McCain will finally be laid to rest this weekend in Annapolis amid eulogies from George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Give McCain some credit for using the occasion of his funeral to illustrate vividly that there’s less than a dime’s worth of difference between the politicians of our time. I’m only surprised that McCain’s final will and testament didn’t follow the Caesarian tradition and call for seven days of war games as part of his memorial. (The best protest Trump could make against this prolonged McCaingasm is not to drone anyone this week.) The image of McCain as some kind of free-wheeling political contrarian was, of course, almost entirely the creation of the press corps that is now weeping over his corpse. McCain was no Cicero. His jokes, barbs and long-winded floor speeches were largely for show. When it came time for voting (on matters ranging from war in Iraq to apartheid in South Africa), McCain was an unvarnished creature of the far right. Politically he wasn’t far removed from the political savages of our time: Jesse Helms, Trent Lott and Dick Armey. Those spitting cobras have been rightly consigned to a kind of historical detention for their racism and warmongering, but McCain has been almost universally venerated, largely because he knew that the easiest way to manipulate the press was to preen for the cameras and give them an occasional pat on the head. As a parting shot, here’s the last piece Cockburn and I wrote on McCain for the print edition of CounterPunch, shortly after he blew what should have been a sure thing against Barack Obama in 2008. — JSC

    • Elissa Slotkin: A CIA Democrat runs for Congress in Michigan

      The 30-second ad features footage of US troops on combat missions in Iraq, followed by images of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers in flames after the 9/11 attacks, as well as posed photographs of Slotkin with President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.

      As these images flash by, accompanied by somber music and American flags, Slotkin outlines her career, declaring that she joined the CIA and did three tours in Iraq, “working for two presidents, one from each party.” She ends the ad with the statement, “We need members of Congress to remember it’s about service to country, not themselves.”

      No one watching the ad would have any idea which of the two corporate-controlled parties Slotkin was affiliated with, or even that she was a candidate for political office. All that is communicated is that she worked for the CIA, that this constituted “service to country,” and that, by implication, it was more praiseworthy and valuable than the work of a representative in Congress.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Forget games – data will be Tencent’s biggest test

      Chinese social media, mobile payment and gaming giant Tencent has seen better days. The company has lost almost 30% of its market value, more than US$160 billion, since a peak in January.

      The investor retreat has centered largely around new regulations placed on online and mobile games, part of the Chinese government’s efforts to tackle game addiction among the nation’s youth. Tencent’s business model relies heavily on revenue from games.

      Now more than ever, Tencent’s strategy to remain competitive outside of that segment has far more important implications for the company’s future. As the company tries to leverage its mobile app ecosystem, which includes China’s most used social media and mobile payment platforms, to foster competition in the retail space, data will be key.

    • Japanese trust bank to launch personal data brokerage business

      I’m just wondering how the individuals will behave when they have obtained control over their personal data. Many of us have got to used to provide our personal data to a computer system or a company in exchange for convenience, even though we don’t provide such data to a person in front of us. I’m also wondering how the quality or user experience of services will change when the services have become created only based on data of persons who are willing to provide their personal data.

    • Five Eyes govts issue warning to firms on encryption

      The governments of the Five Eyes countries — the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have warned tech companies that they must voluntarily enable access to products sold in these five countries, else they will be forced to do so in cases deemed necessary.

    • Matthew M. Aid, independent researcher who wrote a history of the NSA, dies at 60
  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • A disturbing photo and a leaky can of pepper spray ruined this flight to Hawaii

      Passengers boarded the flight Friday morning from Oakland International Airport to Maui’s Kahului Airport. The plane was supposed to take off at 7 a.m., but it was brought back to the gate because a 15-year-old girl accidentally airdropped a picture of a fake crime scene to passengers, according to CNN affiliate KGO-TV. The picture showed a mannequin face-down on the ground surrounded by crime scene numerical markers.

      Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told KGO about 15 passengers viewed the photo and “believed that the picture was threatening.”

      It was found that the girl was just trying to airdrop the photo to her mom, Kelly said, but because she airdropped using bluetooth, people in range of her phone had the option of accepting and viewing the photo.

    • How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

      On September 5th, 1882, 10,000 workers gathered at a “monster labor festival” to protest the 12-hours per day, seven days a week harsh working conditions they faced in order to cobble together a survivable wage. Even children as “young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country.”

      This all erupted in a climax in 1894 when the American Railway Union went on a nationwide strike, crippling the nation’s transportation infrastructure, which included trains that delivered postal mail. President Grover Cleveland declared this a federal crime and sent in federal troops to break up the strike, which resulted in one of the bloodiest encounters in labor history, leaving 30 dead and countless injured.

    • California becomes first state to eliminate bail

      California will become the first state to eliminate bail for suspects awaiting trial and replace it with a still murky risk-assessment system under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

    • Serving Time Should Not Mean ‘Prison Slavery’

      Since Aug. 21, prisoners across the United States have been on one of the largest prison strikes the nation has seen in years. They have several demands, but at the top is the end of the forced labor the state coerces out of them. Up to 800,000 prisoners a day are put out for work without their choice, usually for extremely paltry compensation that in Louisiana is as low as 4 cents per hour.

      With often privatized prisons operating with maximum security and limited communication among prisoners, even discovering what is happening remains difficult, yet prisoners have organized themselves nonetheless in one of the most important labor actions in this country.

    • The Internet of Garbage
    • ‘Act like a lady,’ Denver police tell journalist as they handcuff and detain her for photographing them
    • Chicago police data reveals how dirty cops spread corruption like a disease
    • Chagos Islands: international dispute and human drama

      Fifty years ago Britain separated the Chagos Islands from its colony Mauritius, expelling the entire population to make way for the installation of a US military base that is today highly strategic.

      Britain’s 1965 acquisition of the Indian Ocean archipelago has been disputed ever since, with Mauritius demanding its return.

      As the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague holds hearings on the case from Monday, here is some background.

    • Australian film-maker James Ricketson sentenced to six years’ jail in Cambodia

      Australian film-maker James Ricketson has been found guilty of espionage in Cambodia and sentenced to six years in jail.

      His family say they are devastated at his conviction and sentence, and have called on the Australian government to pressure Cambodia to release him.

      Ricketson, 69, said he had worked as a journalist and video documenter in the south-east Asian country since 1995 and was arrested in June 2017 for flying a drone at a political rally. He has been incarcerated since then, with the guilty verdict given this morning by a three-judge panel in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

    • Lithuania to appeal European ruling on secret CIA jail: PM

      Lithuania’s prime minister said on Wednesday that his Baltic EU nation would appeal a European court ruling that found it was complicit in a secret and illegal CIA programme to hold terror suspects on its soil.

      “Our own pretrial investigation does not confirm this conclusion, therefore we will turn to the Grand Chamber” of the European Court of Human Rights, Premier Saulius Skvernelis told reporters in Vilnius.

      His announcement reverses a justice ministry decision made just last week not to appeal the ruling on the grounds that it was unlikely to be changed.

    • Lithuania To Appeal European Court Ruling On Secret CIA Prison In Country – Prime Minister

      The Lithuanian government has switched its position and has decided to appeal the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Lithuania hosted a secret jail of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where terrorism suspects were held and interrogated, the country’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said on Wednesday.

      On August 23, the press service of Lithuania’s representative in the ECHR said that the country would not appeal the ECHR ruling, made on May 31 and stipulating that Lithuania was responsible for violating the rights of Abu Zubaydah, suspected of ties to Al Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in Russia), as he was mistreated in the CIA jail that the country hosted between February 2005 and March 2006.

    • Lithuania to appeal European ruling on secret CIA jail: PM

      Lithuania’s prime minister said on Wednesday that his Baltic EU nation would appeal a European court ruling that found it was complicit in a secret and illegal CIA programme to hold terror suspects on its soil.

      “Our own pretrial investigation does not confirm this conclusion, therefore we will turn to the Grand Chamber” of the European Court of Human Rights, Premier Saulius Skvernelis told reporters in Vilnius.

      His announcement reverses a justice ministry decision made just last week not to appeal the ruling on the grounds that it was unlikely to be changed.

    • Lithuanian government to appeal ECHR ruling over CIA prison

      The Lithuanian government has changed its position and decided to appeal against the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that the country hosted a secret CIA detention facility, informs LETA/BNS.

    • Call for Pacific leaders to support West Papua resolution

      It said the denial of the right of self-determination for West Papua in the 1960s set the scene for decades of state-sanctioned violence against the indigenous population.

      The activist group said the so-called ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969 was a fraudulent exercise carried out under extreme duress.

      It said there is evidence West Papuans are experiencing slow genocide due to ongoing human rights abuses and the harmful conditions of life experienced by so many Papuans.

    • Riot squad to escort council workers to Islamic leader’s alleged illegal land clearing site: court

      In correspondence with the council, tendered to court, Dr Kara-Ali claimed his organisation was exempt from Australian law because it was classed as a basic religious charity.

      However, this claim is not supported by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

    • Yazidi slave girl meets Isis captor in German street
    • Yazidi Girl Seeks Justice After Meeting IS Captor in Germany

      German officials are investigating claims by a Yazidi girl that she was allegedly threatened by her former Islamic State captor in Germany, a spokesperson for that country’s Federal Court of Justice told VOA. The girl, Ashwaq Haji Hami, has since left Germany.

      Frauke Koehler, spokesperson for federal prosecutors at the Federal Court of Justice in Germany, told VOA that the matter is being investigated under international criminal code.

    • ISIS sex slave’s brother reveals his wife was also TAKEN – but he rescued her and had her captor killed

      During her 30-month incarceration, Jilan managed to steal a mobile phone and risked punishment by gang rape or even execution by contacting her husband in the vain hope he had survived.

      iThrough snatched, hushed conversations she was able to reveal her location, giving Huzni, now 37, the opportunity to plan an extraordinary rescue. Improbably, he hired a hitman to kill her captor before finally ­smuggling his wife out of Mosul, and back into his arms.

    • Three arrested in Faridabad after Hindu man was found murdered by Muslim ex-wife’s family

      In another case of ‘honour killing’, a Hindu man, Sanjay Kumar, was killed by the family of his Muslim ex-wife, a week ago in Faridabad. The decomposed body of the man was recovered on Tuesday afternoon, Swarajya said. Kumar had been missing since 16 August.

    • Swedish authorities monitor Islamic group’s campaign to stop Swedish Muslims voting

      Hizb ut-Tahrir has shared videos via social media in which it says voting in Western elections is forbidden in Islam, as well as sharing images of members of the group outside Stockholm’s mosque speaking to members of the public and handing out brochures.

    • CAIR in the Classroom: Islamist Group Partnering with Public Schools

      CAIR — an Islamist group and United Arab Emirates-designated terrorist organization that bills itself as a defender of civil rights — has achieved special concessions for Muslim students and launched the inappropriate insertion of religion into publicly-funded education. Meanwhile, pushback from parents and outside organizations is building.

    • Anti-Immigrant — Or Pro-”Melting Pot”?

      We are stronger as a country if we all assimilate into being Americans, speaking a common language — while also bringing our talents and traditions and languages from our countries of origin.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • California Lawmakers Pass Nation’s Toughest Net Neutrality Law

      California lawmakers on Friday passed a bill that would guarantee full and equal access to the internet — a principle known as net neutrality — in the biggest pushback yet to the federal government’s rollback of rules last year.

      The California bill is viewed as even stronger and more consumer-friendly than the original measures carried out by the Obama administration and abolished in December by the Trump-era Federal Communications Commission. It is sure to set up a fight between broadband providers, which say strict rules would increase their costs, and consumer groups, which seek to ensure that all traffic on the internet is treated equally.

      It is the latest effort in a growing fight against deregulation by the Trump administration. Federal agencies that have slashed regulations on telecommunications are being challenged in court by more than 20 states. Thirty states have introduced bills to ensure net neutrality.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • CJEU back in ‘Hot Water’ – when are infringing goods being ‘offered’?

      The test purchase made by Coty turned out to be a parallel import. Parallel imports are non-counterfeit products that are imported from another country, and in this case from outside the EU. Due to lack of exhaustion, the sale of such products is infringing since it lacks the rights owner’s consent.

      Coty asked Amazon to cease and desist from owning or shipping DAVIDOFF HOT WATER perfumes for the purpose of putting them on the market when said products have not been exhausted in the European market.

    • Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act

      Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed this bill whose primary patent-focused clause reads as follows: The Secretary of Commerce shall prohibit the export to the People’s Republic of China of any national security sensitive technology or intellectual property subject to the jurisdiction of the United States or exported by any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

    • Design Patents — Looking for More in 2018

      The chart below shows the number of design patents granted each calendar year (orange) going back to 1993. The figures for 2018 are current through the end of August 2018. 2018 figures have also been extrapolated to the end of the calendar year — predicting an all-time-high of 31,000+ design patents issued in 2018. In the shadow-grey background the chart also shows the number of design patent applications filed each year as reported by the PTO (These applications are ordinarily kept secret unless the application results in a patent).

    • Refund from Paper-Filing during USPTO Outages

      The USPTO has published a notice explaining the procedures for obtaining a refund for extra-fees paid by patent applicants and others during its recent “significant unplanned electronic business system outage.”

    • Patent Reform, Then and Now

      One of the most significant legislative reforms of the U.S. patent system occurred in 1952. Prior to 1952, the patent system found itself languishing, undermined by a confusing non-statutory patentability requirement called the “invention” requirement. In 1952, Congress and the President eliminated it. Today we find ourselves in a situation surprisingly similar to the one prior to 1952. The patent system again finds itself languishing, undermined by a new confusing non-statutory patentability requirement, this one called the “inventive concept” requirement. Today, just like in 1952, there are ongoing calls for Congress and the President to eliminate it. Given the striking parallels between these two eras — and the success of legislative reform efforts in 1952 — I have studied the forces behind the reform of 1952: the problems with the law of the day, the people and groups of people involved in reform efforts, and the circumstances and strategies they used to their advantage to create change. This study has led me to identify various factors that led to the success of those efforts in 1952. In parallel with the study of the history behind the Patent Act of 1952, I highlight the problems with the law today, the people and groups of people involved today in reform efforts, and the circumstances and strategies they might use to their advantage to create change. Moreover, drawing from the factors that led to the success of legislative reform efforts in 1952, I analyze how those same factors may contribute to the success of current legislative reform efforts — or hinder it.

    • Congress and Trump are out of step on intellectual property

      The Trump administration started its trade war this year with China under the auspices of countering Beijing’s theft of U.S. intellectual property. There is no doubt that China, with its Made in China 2025 plan, has been actively acquiring U.S. intellectual property for years. The U.S. intelligence community acknowledges that China is a leader in economic espionage. The Chinese government has required U.S. businesses to transfer technology to Chinese companies as a precondition of entering the Chinese market. Further, China and Chinese companies are investing heavily in U.S. companies to gain access to their underlying intellectual property.

    • The Story of the American Inventor Denied a Patent Because He Was a Slave

      The world of invention is famous for its patent disputes. But what happens when your dispute wasn’t with another inventor but whether the Patent Office saw you as a person at all? In 1864, a black man named Benjamin T. Montgomery tried to patent his new propeller for steamboats. The Patent Office said that he wasn’t allowed to patent his invention. All because he was enslaved.

      Benjamin T. Montgomery was born into slavery in Virginia in 1819. It’s believed that he learned to read and write from a young age, something not permitted of most slaves because white slaveowners believed that knowledge might lead to rebellions. Montgomery’s literacy gave him a leg up in his later pursuit of everything from surveying to architectural drafting. He even became the first black public official in the state of Mississippi after the Civil War as a Justice of the Peace. But it was his proficiency with machines that would make him notable for the history books—provided mainstream American history books covered such things.

    • Trademarks
    • Copyrights
      • Judge Denies Motions to Dismiss Fraud, Copyright Claims in ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ Lawsuit

        In October 2016, the creators of the classic mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap filed suit against a group of defendants including the French mass media conglomerate Vivendi S.A. alleging that Vivendi engaged in anticompetitive business activities to defraud the Spinal Tap creators of profits earned from the movie. On August 28th of this year, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California allowed the case to move forward by denying a motion filed by defendants to dismiss the case based on the economic loss rule, a rule that otherwise operates to require recovery of damages under contract rather than for an action for fraud. Judge Gee also determined that copyright reversion claims presented a sufficiently ripe controversy for consideration by the court.

      • Open Internet Saves Accused Copyright Infringer from Liability

        This copyright lawsuit involves cute Adam Sandler movie titled The Cobbler. In the movie, Sandler’s character free-rides off of the experiences of others by using a magical shoe-cobbling machine. The movie copyright holders did not reciprocate that freedom when American Pirates began downloading and distributing the movie through BitTorrent.

        Cobbler-Nevada was able to trace the Internet Protocol (IP) address associated with the infringing activity and then filed suit in a John Doe lawsuit. Comcast responded to a subpoena in the case with information that the IP address was assigned to its customer Thomas Gonzales. The Copyright holder then amended its complaint to name Gonzales — accusing him of copyright infringement as well as contributory copyright infringement (for failing to secure his internet connection). Note here that Gonzales operates an adult care home and that the internet service was open to residents and visitors.

EFF and TechDirt Continue to Challenge the USPTO (and the Courts) to Improve Patent Quality

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 03:08:02 PM

Recent: Google Gets Told Off — Even by the Typically Supportive EFF and TechDirt — Over Patenting of Software

Hitting back against patent hawks and eagles/vultures (those looking to prey on someone)

Summary: US-based sites/groups which are technology-leaning rather than lawyers- or litigation-leaning advise the world’s most powerful patent office and the corresponding courts to consider what’s truly unpatentable and decide accordingly

THE USPTO has been pressured to improve patent quality; one way to achieve this is to highlight obviously bad (and embarrassing) patent grants/awards. How about European Patents on literally fraudulent things (part of elaborate scams) and special awards for such people?

We recently wrote about a "Stupid European Patent" (EP) and we welcome pointers from readers (pointers to other ridiculous European Patents). In the meantime see “Stupid Patent Of The Month: A Newspaper On A Screen” by Alex Moss (EFF). This was published by TechDirt days after the original had been published in the EFF’s site to say:

One of the oldest challenges in journalism is deciding what goes on the front page. How big should the headline be? What articles merit front-page placement? When addressing these questions, publishers deal with a physical limit in the size of the page. Digital publishing faces a similar constraint: the storage capacity of the user’s device. You can only put as much content on the device as will fit. If that sounds like a fundamental to you, and unpatentable, idea, we agree. Unfortunately, the Patent Office does not. They recently decided to issue our latest Stupid Patent of the Month: U.S. No. 10,042,822, titled “Device, Method, and System for Displaying Pages of a Digital Edition by Efficient Download of Assets.”

The ’822 patent adds nothing remotely inventive or technological to the basic idea of providing a portion of a periodical—i.e., a newspaper—based on the amount of space available. The patent owner, Nuglif, makes an application for distributing news and media content.

Even a cursory glance at the patent reveals the limits of its technological reach. It explains: “The present invention is concerned with a processor-implemented method for displaying a digital edition readable by a dedicated software application running on a data processing device having a display screen, even though the digital edition is not completely downloaded on the data processing device.” The specification is typically elusive as to what that invention actually is, instead repeating the boilerplate phrase beloved by patent applicants, that “the description set forth herein is merely exemplary to the present invention and is not intended to limit the scope of protection.”

For the limits of the patent, we look to its claims, which define the applicant’s legal rights instead of describing the operation of the “invention” to which the claims supposedly correspond. The patent has only one independent claim, which includes steps of (a) receiving a pre-generated file linking to at least some content from current and upcoming digital editions, (b) requesting the linked-content for display, and (c) determining how much content from the upcoming edition to download based on publication date and device capacity.

Here is Mike Masnick’s take on the recently-mentioned EFF and R Street amicus brief (about SCOTUS and the Federal Circuit‘s decision). From TechDirt:

In order for something to be patentable subject matter, it has to meet a few criteria, listed out in the Patent Act. It needs to be a “useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter” and it needs to be “non-obvious” to someone “having ordinary skill in the art.” But, perhaps most importantly it needs to be a new invention. You can’t patent something someone else already invented. That’s why prior art is so important.

Already, the US Patent Office is notoriously bad at finding prior art, which has been a big complaint here at Techdirt for over a decade. Part of this is that they limit what they’ll even look at as prior art, unless information is put directly in front of their faces by those trying to invalidate bad patents. Generally, most of the prior art that patent examiners look at consisted of… earlier patents and scientific journals. And that’s not nearly enough for a whole variety of reasons. But, now the Federal Circuit has suggested that even earlier patent applications may not really count as prior art.

EFF and R Street teamed up to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court asking it to reverse the Federal Circuit (something the court has done over and over and over and over and over again in the last dozen or so years).

We’ve always appreciated the EFF’s campaigns regarding patents at the US Patent Office, sometimes more than on other occasions (there was a time when the EFF’s strategy was a lot poorer). Nowadays they openly speak about software patents; they speak out against these.

US Patent Office and Patent Courts Taking a Stand Against Submarine Patents or Patent Ambushes

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 08:50:49 AM

Should tackle evergreening similarly

Reference: Inventor battling U.S. over patents from ’70s

Summary: When patent trolls armed by Microsoft (in order to attack Microsoft’s rivals) find out that submarine patents are no longer worth the paper they’re printed on and even examiners refuse to grant such patents

A PATENT which practically or at least metaphorically acts as a form of “submarine” (a form of an ambush) was mentioned a lot about a decade ago [1, 2] in relation to a high-profile case of Rambus. Rambus Incorporated was founded 28 years ago and it is considered a “licensing company,” i.e. firm that only/mostly deals with patents. We mentioned submarine patents again last year in relation to OIN. It is a crude form of entrapment and courts can hear arguments to that effect; sometimes examiners too take such considerations into account when assessing whether or not to award a patent.

“It is a crude form of entrapment and courts can hear arguments to that effect; sometimes examiners too take such considerations into account when assessing whether or not to award a patent.”A couple of days ago Venture Beat, which focuses on technology, did an interview (i.e. puff piece) with Gil Hyatt, “a man who created a “submarine patent” by continually following up his patent application with new details.” Why the scare quotes there? A submarine patent is what it really is. Here’s the introduction:

Gil Hyatt’s patience has been tested. After a 22-year delay, the inventor received a patent in 1990 for what he called the first microprocessor, or a computer on a chip. After cutting a deal with Philips Electronics, he began collecting royalties on a lot of electronics products that used the fundamental technology.

In Silicon Valley and elsewhere, Hyatt was viewed as a carpetbagger, a man who created a “submarine patent” by continually following up his patent application with new details. He claims he was a diligent individual inventor who protected his rights. But after the controversial patent award, and after getting 75 patents, the patent office never approved one of his applications again.

More than 40 years later, Hyatt said his important applications are still in limbo. (The typical wait time is 18 months.) He has made at least $150 million from the Philips deal, but he said he is fighting for “justice.” The case took a twist in 2014, when news emerged that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had a special way of flagging potentially controversial patents.

Congratulations to whoever at the USPTO did that. The man became a multi-millionaire out of “submarine patents”, just as some other people became multi-millionaires out of patent trolling, i.e. blackmail. They basically take the money of many other people, including some small businesses. The summary of this article in Slashdot says, “80-Year-Old Inventor Gil Hyatt Says Patent Office is Waiting For Him To Die” (as if it’s him who is the victim deserving of sympathy!). Thankfully there are many comments there, over 100 of them.

Speaking of trolls and submarine patents, Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. is part of Conversant (formerly known as MOSAID, a Microsoft-connected troll), and it has just found out that its submarine patent cannot be enforced (by virtue of it being part of an ambush). We wrote about it last month and Watchtroll caught up with it quite late (13 days after the decision). It wrote this:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a ruling on discussing the equitable doctrine of implied waiver; a decision that will be particularly important for those participating in the standard setting process and engaging with standard setting organizations, or SSOs as they are sometimes called. According to the Federal Circuit, failure to disclose patents and applications relevant to a standard may render a patent unenforceable based on an implied waiver. See Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. Apple Inc., No. 17-2102, 2018 (Fed Cir. Aug. 16, 2018) (Before Reyna, Bryson, and Hughes, Circuit Judges) (Opinion for the court, Bryson, Circuit Judge).

This case began when Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l. (“Core Wireless”) sued Apple Inc. (“Apple”) for infringing U.S. Patent No.s 6,477,151 and 6,633,536, both of which were directed to an improvement in the way mobile devices communicate with base stations in a digital network. Apple, in turn, argued that the ‘151 patent was unenforceable because Nokia – the original assignee of the ‘151 patent – breached a duty of disclosure it owed to the European Standards Organization (“ETSI”) during ETSI’s development of technical standards addressing propagation delays in GPRS networks. Specifically, Apple argued that Nokia’s failure to disclose a Finnish patent application, to which the ‘151 patent claimed priority, while advancing a proposal to revise the ETSI GPRS standard rendered the ’151 patent unenforceable. While Nokia’s proposal was ultimately rejected and replaced by a competing proposal, Nokia did not disclose its Finnish patent application to ETSI until four years later.

What we have here is a bunch of patents passed at Microsoft’s own directions (it explicitly instructed this) to a troll which then attacked Apple and Android/Linux. It’s one among many nasty things Microsoft did inside Nokia.

In the Post-Alice Era, in Spite of the Berkheimer Hype, the Patent Microcosm Finally Admits There’s No Turnaround

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 07:34:11 AM

Who’s still ‘pulling a Berkheimer’ anyway? Except for marketing purposes at patent law firms?

Summary: 35 U.S.C. § 101 or its high invalidation rate persists; much to the chagrin of Iancu at al Berkheimer isn’t going to change that

THE U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is led by patent maximalists now. It made it more apparent a few days ago, as we noted a few hours ago.

Decisions from the Federal Circuit are being cherry-picked and in spite of support from even the highest courts — SCOTUS included — for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and inter partes reviews (IPRs) Iancu at al attempt to undermine both. This underlines the extent of the trouble the Office now faces. Patent quality is certainly a priority at the courts; the Office is still pursing just numbers and then it wonders why people complain about low legal certainty associated with US patents.

“…the Office is still pursing just numbers and then it wonders why people complain about low legal certainty associated with US patents.”It was recently shown, using an exhaustive analysis (published in Fenwick & West Blogs), that Berkheimer had made no real difference; the messengers were inadvertently showing that at times Berkheimer being brought up was a recipe for failure.

Those who are accustomed to 'pulling a Berkheimer' will no doubt continue to deny the facts, instead citing their “alternative facts”. Days ago, in another rant among many about PTAB (all he does is ranting about PTAB), Mr. Gross wrote: “congrats to founder of this small start-up beating ridiculous Alice 101 patent rejection at PTAB: … panel specifically calls out failure to follow Berkheimer memo on WURC standard!”

That’s very rare!

As noted a few days ago, first in Lexology and then in JD Supra (press release), “Months after” (as in, more than half a year later) it is “Business as Usual” for 35 U.S.C. § 101 invalidations. They allude specifically to Berkheimer and Aatrix (days or weeks apart some time back in the winter). White & Case LLP’s Bijal Vakil, Daren M. Orzechowski, Cale Tolbert and Michael Anthony Jaoude basically accept that all that “Berkheimer” hype was a lawyers’ lie. Concluding as follows: “Although only a few months have passed, District Courts seem generally unfazed by the Federal Circuit’s decisions in Berkheimer and Aatrix, continuing to decide cases at the motion to dismiss and summary judgment stages. Further time will tell whether these cases cause the disruption that many experts predicted five months ago or whether challenging eligibility will continue as usual.”

“Those who are accustomed to ‘pulling a Berkheimer’ will no doubt continue to deny the facts, instead citing their “alternative facts”.”No, not much has happened. We’ve been following this closely, as did Janal Kalis who gives another new example [PDF] when he writes: “The N. Dist. of California Killed the 23andMe Patent with Alice” (the usual, even at a district court, without a CAFC appeal).

Very good! Let’s hope for many more invalidations such as these. This one, for a change, we suppose Gross and Kalis can actually celebrate a little because it impacts negatively a company indirectly connected to Google (which they loathe).

Qualcomm and AMD Want ‘Innovation’ by Embargo

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 06:33:58 AM

Pursuing patent deals (patents as a revenue source) by denying rivals even access to the market

Summary: Campaigns of patent aggression at USITC (or ITC for short) look for embargoes — the most radical form of patent assertion

THE principal prospect of patents was simple: promotion of innovation. How? Publication. In exchange for what? A temporary monopoly. How would such a monopoly be enforced? Patent taxes? Threats? Lawsuits? Embargoes? It doesn’t say. But the practices evolved or devolved over time. For the objective of innovation to be served it’s not hard to see that complete monopolisation should be actively discouraged. It reduces choice and limits the number of people permitted to work in a certain discipline.

Florian Müller has long written about Qualcomm‘s patent aggression and before the weekend he wrote about its efforts to ban imports by Apple: [via]

A day before an originally-scheduled-then-canceled hearing on a motion by a group of class-action consumers to enjoin Qualcomm from enforcing a hypothetical ITC exclusion order (i.e., a U.S. import ban) against Intel-powered iPhones, Judge Koh has denied the motion without prejudice. One might also say: with an invitation to try again later.

More than a month ago, I analyzed Qualcomm’s opposition and plaintiffs’ reply brief, and wrote that “Qualcomm’s timing-related arguments appear[ed] potentially more interesting to me than the other points it [made].” And indeed, timing was outcome-determinative, for the time being: Judge Lucy Koh of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California based her decision on the Supreme Court’s 2013 holding in Clapper, a case in which Amnesty International and others expressed fears over the federal government, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), intercepting communications between U.S. citizens and foreigners in ways that would infringe on some people’s constitutional rights. In Clapper, the Supreme Court declined to see “certainly impending” injury in a “highly attenuated” chain of possibilities, given that multiple decisions that could go either way had to go one particular way (in each case) in order for the alleged injury to materialize. To the Supreme Court, this was just “too speculative,” and Judge Koh identified parallels with the consumer motion against Qualcomm, given that even if Qualcomm prevailed on the merits of one or more patents-in-suit, the ITC might not grant the exclusion order (broad except that it’s limited to Intel-powered iPhones, which does raise competition concerns) in the form Qualcomm is seeking, that the ITC decision would be appealable, and the President could veto it.

A day or so later Müller added this update about antitrust aspects:

Four months prior to the FTC v. Qualcomm antitrust bench trial in the Northern District of California, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has brought a motion for partial summary judgment that has the potential to make a far greater contribution to fair competition in the wireless baseband chipset market than the procedural context (a pretrial motion) suggests. The FTC is asking Judge Lucy Koh to hold that, under certain (F)RAND licensing obligations it entered into when it participated in wireless standard-setting, Qualcomm must licenses its CDMA, UMTS and 4G/LTE standard-essential patents (SEPs) to rival chipset makers (such as Intel).

This is an unusual situation in which a summary judgment motion is legally extremely simple, yet has the potential for truly transformative impact on the marketplace. In most situations where a party is seeking a game changer, reasonably tricky question of law and/or fact are involved. Here, the FTC is just seeking clarification that Qualcomm’s FRAND licensing commitments say what they say.

It has meanwhile emerged, as per Watchtroll, that ITC is leveraged for more embargo attempts and it’s succeeding. AMD has just had something to celebrate; it resorted to embargo tactics against VIZIO, SDI and MediaTek last year. Who’s behind it?

AMD was represented by attorneys Michael Renaud, Jim Wodarski, Michael McNamara, Bill Meunier, Adam Rizk, Marguerite McConihe, Matthew Karambelas, and Catherine Xu, and Aarti Shah, of Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo PC.

The AMD complaint alleged violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and was based upon the unlawful importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain graphics systems, components thereof, and consumer products containing the same. The importation in question was asserted to infringe certain claims of the U.S. Patent No. 7,633,506 (“the ’506 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 7,796,133 (“the ’133 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 8,760,454 (“the ’454 patent”); and U.S. Patent No. 9,582,846 (“the ’846 patent”).

Another article, this one by Anton Shilov (veteran writer on hardware matters), says this:

AMD has won a round in its legal battle against makers of TVs at the United States International Trade Commission (US ITC). The Commission found that Vizio and Sigma Designs have infringed one of AMD’s patents covering fundamental aspects of modern GPUs. The ITC ordered to cease imports of some of Vizio TVs to the U.S.

Back in early 2017, AMD filed a lawsuit with the US ITC against LG, MediaTek, Sigma Designs, and Vizio. The plaintiff accused the defendants of infringing three patents covering fundamental aspects of contemporary graphics processing, such unified shaders (‘133), parallel pipeline graphics system (‘506), as well as a graphics processing architecture employing unified shaders (‘454). Furthermore, the complaint referenced an in-progress patent application covering GPU architectures with unified shaders (‘967) and accused two of the said companies of infringing it as well. Meanwhile all the defendants license (or licensed) their GPU technologies from ARM and Imagination Technologies (though, as we reported back in early 2017, it looks like AMD only accuses SoCs based on ARM’s architecture of infringing its patents).

I have some professional background in computer graphics albeit not GPUs (or shaders); the above clearly aren’t software patents (so 35 U.S.C. § 101 does not apply) because processing commands in silicon (the ‘pipeline’) is about accelerating execution of code/signal generation. In the case of Qualcomm we’re looking at standard-essential patents (SEPs) — i.e. patents one cannot avoid stepping on — for the implementation of mobile communication, as per industry standards. There are some software patents in there, but most are not.

What we see here is monopolisation taken to the extreme; one must pay particular companies a lot of money to merely comply or conform to standards or else be barred from import/export. How is that good for innovation? The whole FRAND euphemism does not begin to describe just how unjust that is. There should be no patents in such widely-used standards (whose embrace isn’t merely a choice).

The Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) Needs to Instruct the Patent Office to Stop Treating Applicants as Customers/Clients

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 05:15:49 AM

That makes as much sense as classrooms viewing pupils as “customers”

Summary: The USPTO is being abducted by the Big Litigation lobby, just like the EPO (with Battistelli and Team UPC); sadly, this merely dooms the Office, which is supposed to serve science and technology and relies on scientists and technologists to submit high-quality patent applications

LAST month we wrote about USPTO fees being altered. In whose favour? Might Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) become more expensive still in an effort to discourage filers? The truth of the matter is, Iancu is a destructive force at the Office; he’s serving the litigation ‘industry’ (which he came from).

Later this week “[o]n Thursday, Sept. 6, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) will hold a hearing to discuss the latest USPTO proposals to set or adjust patent related fees. The event will be held at the USPTO’s main campus and will be webcast,” Patently-O wrote. Who will be listened to? “Interested members of the public are invited to testify at the PPAC hearing about the proposed patent fee adjustments. Those wishing to present oral testimony at the hearing must submit a request in writing no later than Aug. 31,” Patently-O added, so it’s too late already.

“The CCIA went further, noting that the USPTO now calls applicants “customers”…”Sadly, Mr. Iancu (Trump’s choice of Director) makes the PTO seem as rogue as the EPO, at least sometimes. Never mind the fact that Iancu’s own firm had worked for Trump before the Trump Administration offered him the job…

A "Strategic Plan" was released by Iancu some days ago even though it was just a draft which reaffirmed suspicions that Iancu was like a ‘mole’ for the litigation ‘industry’.

“In the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan [of the USPTO] the word “customer” appears 12 times,” says the CCIA. The USPTO hasn’t quite recovered from its disastrous downtime (which it tries to distract from with this “Strategic Plan”); refunds are still a sordid mess and the reputation of the Office was severely harmed. The face-saving messages from Iancu only angered stakeholders further; he made no sincere apologies and did not explain the cause of the downtimes (this was not the first), instead framing them as a “feature”, not a bug.

The CCIA went further, noting that the USPTO now calls applicants “customers” (like the EPO calls them) and there’s a lot more:

At the heart of these flaws is the USPTO’s embrace of an inappropriate viewpoint. The USPTO treats applicants as “customers,” catering to them first—sometimes at the expense of the public. The USPTO first took this approach in the early 1990s, when it was first required to fund agency activities with user fees. The agency most explicitly adopted it during the dot-com period, stating that the “primary mission of the Patent Business is to help customers get patents.” While the USPTO later retreated from this statement, the viewpoint appears to be re-emerging in the wake of the USPTO’s authorization to set its own fees. In the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, the word “customer” appears 12 times; in the draft 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, the word appears 70 times. The USPTO is not a business. Taking a view that treats applicants as customers implicitly places their needs and desires over those of the public.

This has real harms. Prioritizing applicants runs the risk of granting patents that shouldn’t have issued, tying up broad areas of technology and rendering known technology unusable. While invalid patents can be challenged, challenges remain expensive and time-consuming. This is particularly problematic when invalid patents are granted in newly developing areas like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, or additive manufacturing, where smaller innovators may not have the resources to challenge patents and may decide to innovate in other areas—or not at all.

If the USPTO becomes an agency of the litigation ‘industry’ rather than servant for science and technology, people who actually create things will simply view it as a foe. This is the risk Iancu now takes and the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) needs to take that into account later this week. Whose office is it anyway?

The US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) Decision to Void Abstract Patents May Mean That BlackBerry Has No Future, None Even as a Patent Troll

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 04:23:49 AM

The man behind this awful strategy has meanwhile left the company

Summary: Owing to 35 U.S.C. § 101, former phone giants such as BlackBerry find themselves toothless; Google too (dominant with Android on phones) is losing the ability to patent algorithms

THE SCOTUS ‘gift’ which was 35 U.S.C. § 101/Alice (2014) has been no gift to BlackBerry, which now relies on poor-quality patents, granted by the USPTO by the tens of thousands.

“So BlackBerry is finding out that its software patents are worthless.”Over the past week we’ve seen this Canadian ‘troll’ (some experts actually call it that these days) losing its patents. Yes, BlackBerry is struggling also to ‘monetise’ its patents, having long struggled to sell actual products.

As patent maximalists put it some days ago:

Three BlackBerry patents have been invalidated in four IPRs brought by Google, while two more IPRs relating to another BlackBerry patent are pending

Software patents from a malicious parasite that is suing companies when it fails to get money (outside the court) would not be missed. BlackBerry uses such patents against companies other than Google. But Google is wealthy enough to fight back; it can afford a legal challenge instead of surrendering in the face of threats.

As Malathi Nayak put it in corporate media (not patent maximalists):

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has knocked out two BlackBerry Ltd. patents on technology that helps users navigate mobile device screens.

BlackBerry’s user-interface patents were obvious and unpatentable as they were covered by previous inventions, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ruled Aug. 29. The ruling comes a day after the administrative board also invalidated BlackBerry’s patent on instant message time stamps.

Google’s patent review challenges and BlackBerry’s infringement lawsuits against companies such as Facebook Inc. and Snap Inc. test the strength of BlackBerry’s patents. BlackBerry is looking to leverage its 40,000 patents to revive revenue growth. Its patent licensing revenue made up nearly 30% of the 2019 fiscal first quarter revenue of $213 million.

Google challenged four BlackBerry patents last year. Google, which now has killed three of them, is awaiting a board decision on its remaining challenge on a patent covering software security.

So BlackBerry is finding out that its software patents are worthless. James Korenchan has weighed in on BlackBerry Ltd. v Facebook, Inc., which is an older case that we wrote about last month. Here are some details:

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that claims related to providing time data for messages communicated between electronic devices in a messaging conversation are patent ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Back in March, BlackBerry Limited (“BlackBerry”) filed suit against Facebook, Inc., WhatsApp, Inc., Instagram, Inc., and Instagram, LLC (collectively, “Facebook Defendants”), alleging infringement of nine patents. BlackBerry then sued Snap, Inc. (“Snap”) a month later alleging infringement of six of those nine patents. The Defendants in each of these suits each moved to dismiss their respective cases. Snap moved on the basis that each of the six asserted patents are patent-ineligible. The Facebook Defendants moved on the basis that four of the nine asserted patents in that suit are patent-ineligible. The Court’s ruling addressed seven of the nine patents, three of which were common between the two suits. In particular, the Court granted Snap’s motion with prejudice as to the independent claims of asserted U.S. Patent No. 8,301,713 (the ’713 patent) and otherwise denied all other motions, including Snap’s movement with respect to the dependent claims of the ’713 patent. This post addresses only the ruling on the ’713 patent.

So as we’ve expected as well as hoped, BlackBerry’s litigation campaign is going down the drain (little by little). The underlying patents just aren’t legitimate.

“…had all software patents been voided as ineligible (or no longer eligible) a lot of spurious, frivolous litigation such as BlackBerry’s would be immediately eliminated.”Daniel Nazer (EFF) has meanwhile condemned Google again, reaffirming our claims that it’s wrong to associate the EFF with Google (as patent maximalists like to do, having blamed their woes on Google and the EFF). It’s about this infamous patent application, which is an attempt at software patenting with prior art in the Public Domain. In the words of the EFF, “After Patent Office Rejection, It is Time For Google To Abandon Its Attempt to Patent Use of Public Domain Algorithm” (we’d go further and suggest Google stops its patent aggression, too).

At EFF, we often criticize software patents that claim small variations on known techniques. These include a patent on updating software over the Internet, a patent on out-of-office email, and a patent on storing data in a database. Now, Google is trying to patent the use of a known data compression algorithm – called asymmetric numeral systems (ANS) – for video compression. In one sense, this patent application is fairly typical. The system seems designed to encourage tech giants to flood the Patent Office with applications for every little thing they do. Google’s application stands out, however, because the real inventor of ANS did everything he could to dedicate his work to the public domain.

Jarek Duda developed ANS from 2006-2013. When he published his work, he wanted it to be available to the public free of restrictions. So he was disappointed to learn that Google was trying to patent the use of his algorithm. In his view, Google’s patent application merely applied ANS to a standard video compression pipeline. Earlier this summer, Timothy B. Lee of Ars Technica published a detailed article about the patent application and Duda’s attempt to stop it.

This week, the Patent Office issued a non-final rejection of all claims in Google’s application. The examiner rejected the claims on a number of grounds. First, he found the three broadest claims ineligible under Alice v CLS Bank, which holds that abstract ideas do not become eligible for a patent merely because they are implemented on a generic computer. The examiner rejected all of the claims for lack of clarity and for claiming functions that are not described with sufficient detail (applicants are often able to overcome these kinds of rejections with an amendment).

Notice that part about Alice v CLS Bank and bear in mind that had all software patents been voided as ineligible (or no longer eligible) a lot of spurious, frivolous litigation such as BlackBerry’s would be immediately eliminated.

Coming to Grips With the Fact That EPO Layoffs Are Already in Effect

Sunday 2nd of September 2018 03:05:09 AM

Summary: Months after implementing layoffs at the EU-IPO (or EUIPO) António Campinos does the same thing at the EPO; but as usual these layoffs are cleverly disguised and shrewdly marketed using euphemisms such as “efficiency”

THE EPO scandals were caused by backlash to abusive management. Abuses and corruption caused a reaction from staff, which was in turn illegally attacked by the management. This is profoundly different from anything we have ever seen in other patent offices, including the USPTO.

A month before António Campinos joined the EPO we wrote about the plan to lay off (or make redundant) about 15% of the staff. Months prior to that Campinos did that at EU-IPO, causing some major controversy.

“Abuses and corruption caused a reaction from staff, which was in turn illegally attacked by the management.”Campinos isn’t unfamiliar with such situations; he’s also accustomed to gagging his critics, having already done that at EU-IPO. Campinos is a former banker, so Battistelli’s financial misconduct is perhaps something he’s familiar with (and will turn a blind eye to), having started his management career in rather notorious banks.

A reminder that there are EPO layoffs might occasionally be needed; salaries are halved to push people out and their contracts are being narrowed to make work ‘expire’ (classic way to ‘shadow’ people’s sackings/layoffs, making termination seem ‘natural’). We say this with regret, not pleasure, as qualified, experienced examiners are sorely needed to ensure improper monopolies aren’t being awarded/granted.

As last demonstrated on Friday again and again, software patents are being promoted in Europe by the EPO. Today’s EPO (since Campinos took over) does this not once a day but several times per day. Not even Battistelli’s EPO did it so routinely. “How should the IP world prepare for the growth of artificial intelligence? This conference gave some answers,” said one new tweet. They basically call lots of algorithms “artificial intelligence” in an effort to dodge more ‘controversial’ terms such as “software patents”. This event — like another event from the EPO (together with US patent maximalists) — promotes software patents as well abstract patents, hype, etc.

The EPO’s erratic activity in Twitter is rather revealing; they’re cycling between this advocacy of software patents, greenwashing of patents, never anything about hirings (not anymore), Inventor Award 2019 and some routinary things about “SMEs” (which the EPO still discriminates against). There’s the occasional mention of the Boards of Appeal, BoA. The EPO still neglects to mention that BoA decisions it refers to come from a compromised (lost independence) set of judges and it has just mentioned WIPO in relation to stakeholders being scammed, linking to the Official Journal [for] August 2018 (direct link [PDF]).

SUEPO’s quiet is not indication of calm. The EPO’s silence (the summer holiday notwithstanding) is strategic. Nobody in the media has yet written about the ‘shadow’ layoffs at the EPO, but insiders are well aware of these. This was also predictable (foreseen since the Battistelli days).

Links 1/9/2018: Wine 3.15 and KaOS 2018.08

Saturday 1st of September 2018 08:24:22 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • Ubuntu Now Shipping On The Dell Precision 5530 Developer Edition

      Announced back in May by Dell was an Ubuntu option for their new (2018) xx30 series Precision laptops. They previously began shipping the Ubuntu-loaded Dell Precision 3530/7530/7730 mobile workstations while beginning to ship as of today is the Precision 5530 Developer Edition.

      The Dell Precision 5530 features 8th Gen Intel Core CPUs of either Core or Xeon families, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 4TB of storage, and integrated graphics or NVIDIA Quadro discrete graphics, and other current generation functionality.

  • Server
    • New OpenStack cloud release embraces bare metal

      OpenStack is getting bigger than ever. It now powers more than 75 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than 10 million compute cores. But it’s always been hard to upgrade from one version of OpenStack to another, and it’s been hard to deploy on bare metals. With OpenStack 18, Rocky, both problems are much easier to deal with now.

    • Openstack Rocky builds on automation, upgrades and usability

      Time again for another Openstack release, the open source infrastructure’s 18th iteration – Rocky – which promises to heap on new features that further improve automation and usability among a variety of hardware architectures.

      According to the Openstack Foundation, some of the more notable enhancements include refinements for bare metal provisioning service Ironic as well as fast forward upgrades so that users can upgrade to the latest releases more easily.

      “I think some of the biggest improvements are around the bare metal management, basically enabling people to build Openstack bare metal clouds with Ironic,” executive director of the Openstack Foundation, Jonathan Bryce, tells Computerworld UK. “Once you’ve automated your physical hardware in your data centre, that brings a ton of flexibility to what you can do with that infrastructure – you can run virtual machines on it with Nova, you can run containers directly on the bare metal and then orchestrate them with Kubernetes, Mesos, Swarm, or whatever you want to do.

    • OpenStack’s latest release focuses on bare metal clouds and easier upgrades

      The OpenStack Foundation today released the 18th version of its namesake open-source cloud infrastructure software. The project has had its ups and downs, but it remains the de facto standard for running and managing large private clouds.

      What’s been interesting to watch over the years is how the project’s releases have mirrored what’s been happening in the wider world of enterprise software. The core features of the platform (compute, storage, networking) are very much in place at this point, allowing the project to look forward and to add new features that enterprises are now requesting.

    • Developers’ corner: Top 9 open source projects spawned by Kubernetes

      Kubernetes is at the center of the container revolution today. What began with Docker has gone beyond the confines of a single organization or tool. The container movement has brought the entire IT industry to consolidate around open standards that benefit all organizations, not just a few powerful vendors. This is what Kubernetes represents — a world of software delivery that is built on an open foundation.

    • Despite What VMware Says, Not Everyone Wants to Deploy Containers in VMs [Ed: So the company wants containers to be placed within its proprietary VMs/hypervisors with back doors]

      For its 18th code release, issued today, the OpenStack community is making the software easier to deploy on bare metal. The release, named “Rocky,” takes advantage of the way physical servers are managed to make it as fast and easy to deploy OpenStack on physical servers as in virtual machines (VMs).

      Jonathan Bryce, executive director with the OpenStack Foundation, said, “We see an environment where people want the right building blocks and to be able to pick a physical server or a VM and have the ability to manage it all in a single platform.”

    • VMware Claims Greater Scalability With Open-Source Blockchain Project [Ed: Openwashing]

      Cloud computing and virtualization firm VMware said Tuesday that it has developed an open-source blockchain infrastructure designed to be both scalable and energy efficient.

      Dubbed Project Concord, VMware’s blockchain aims to provide a base for blockchain implementations which can solve certain scaling issues by modifying the Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus algorithm commonly found in blockchain networks.

      Senior researcher Guy Golan Gueta wrote in a company blog post that the project’s algorithm uses a different communication procedure than existing consensus protocols that “exploits optimism to provide a common case fast-path execution” and utilizes new cryptographic algorithms.

    • Is Serverless the Future of Open Source and Software Development?

      Is serverless computing the next evolution of open source? And, more broadly, is serverless the key to opening up software development to the masses?

      Those two questions were the crux of a short keynote address by Austen Collins, CEO of Serverless Inc., at this week’s Open Source Summit event in Vancouver, British Columbia.

    • Mainframes Get GUI, With Zowe Project

      For the last 50 years, mainframe have literally been the big iron systems that have helped to power critical elements of IT infrastructure. Yet despite the core role that mainframes have held, the primary interface to the mainframe throughout its history has been the ‘green screen’ command line.

      At the Open Source Summit, the Linux Foundation’s Open Mainframe project announced the new Zowe effort which for the first time brings a real graphical user interface to the mainframe. The Open Mainframe project itself was first announced at Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon 2015 event in Seattle.

    • OpenStack Bare Metal Clouds, Fast Forward Upgrades and Hardware Accelerators Take Center Stage in Latest Release, ‘Rocky’

      18th release of OpenStack addresses new demands for infrastructure driven by modern use cases like AI, machine learning, NFV and edge computing, by starting with a bare metal foundation and enabling containers, VMs and GPUs

  • Audiocasts/Shows
    • [Podcast] PodCTL #47 – VM Admin vs Container Admin

      This week, we were watching as fall trade show season got started and we noticed that one of the Container 101 sessions had a packed room. This led to a discussion about how many people were still at the 101 stages of container knowledge. TL;DR – it’s still a lot! So we thought it would be useful to do a basic-level show about what a VM-Admin would need to know in order to be a Container Admin. We walked a mile in that admin’s shoes, and laid out a map for how to think about their world in a container-centric way.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux Kernel 4.17 Reaches End of Life, Users Are Urged to Upgrade to Linux 4.18

      The Linux 4.17 kernel series has reached end of life earlier this week with the release of the nineteenth maintenance update (Linux 4.17.19) and it won’t receive further updates.

      Launched by Linus Torvalds on June 3, 2018, the Linux 4.17 kernel series introduced better hardware support thanks to the addition of support for Intel’s Cannon Lake architecture, as well as support for the Nvidia Tegra Xavier processor.

      It also added support for the Andes NDS32 RISC-like architecture and AMD’s upcoming Radeon Vega 12 graphics processing units, and it deprecated several microarchitectures, including Blackfin, CRIS, FR-V, M32R, Metag, MN10300, SCORE, and TILE.

    • DRM-Misc Begins Preparing For The Linux 4.20~5.0 Kernel

      Sean Paul of Google who herds the drm-misc-next code into DRM-Next sent the first pull request of new material targeting the next kernel cycle, Linux 4.20 but more likely to be known as Linux 5.0.

    • Linux Patches Working On High Resolution Scrolling For Logitech Mice

      The latest work being sought by Google’s Chrome OS team for inclusion into the upstream Linux kernel is high-resolution scrolling for Logitech mice.

      Harry Cutts of the Chrome OS touch/input team sent out the latest patches today for high-resolution scroll wheel support for Logitech mice under Linux. The original high-resolution scrolling patches were sent out last week and offers much more precise reporting than the existing functionality provided by the HID driver.

    • 32-bit PTI For Mitigating Meltdown Is Causing Problems With Early Linux 4.19 Builds

      If you tend to routinely ride the latest Linux Git code and are still using 32-bit (x86) hardware, you may want to watch out for problems around the new Kernel Page Table Isolation (K/PTI) functionality.

      One of the additions to the Linux 4.19 kernel that ended its merge window last weekend and proceeded to 4.19-rc1 is 32-bit KPTI support for page table isolation similar to x86_64 for mitigating the Meltdown vulnerability on Intel CPUs.

    • Torvalds Says Open Source Is the Way to Combat Software Complexity

      Linus Torvalds is no longer worried about what happens to Linux if he gets hit by a bus, as he’s confident there is a work flow process in place that guarantees the success of Linux. Torvalds, the creator of Linux, shared his views on the future of Linux in a conversation with Dirk Hohndel, Chief Open Source Officer at VMware at the Open Source Summit here Aug. 31

      Torvalds exchanged lively banter with Hohndel on a wide variety of topics ranging from the recent Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, the state of hardware performance, the Linux development process and the future of Linux without Torvalds’ guiding hand.

      “What I really worry about is the flow of patches and the workflow is more important than the code,” Torvalds said. “If you have the right work flow, code will sort itself out and if a bug happens, we know how to deal with it.”

    • Intel Open-Sources New TPM2 Software Stack

      This week Intel opened up a newly-completed Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM2) stack with support for Linux and Microsoft Windows.

      This new TPM2 code supports the latest Trusted Computing Group v1.38 specification and is designed to work with any TPM2 hardware implementation. This new open-source software stack provides the TPM-T2SS as the heart of this new code as well as a new set of tools for interfacing with the TPM 2.0 device, a system daemon, and the kernel driver.

    • Linux Patch Posted For Cross-Hyperthread Spectre Mitigation With STIBP

      The latest Linux kernel patch coming to light in the Spectre space is by SUSE’s Jiri Kosina for enabling cross-hyperthreaded Spectre V2 STIBP mitigation.

      STIBP is short for Single Thread Indirect Branch Predictors and is supported by certain Intel CPUs and microcodes. What STIBP provides on supported CPUs/microcodes is from indirect branch predictions from being controlled by the sibling hyper-thread.

    • Linux Foundation
      • The Linux Foundation: Accelerating Open Source Innovation

        Successful projects depend on members, developers, standards, and infrastructure to develop products that the market will adopt, said Zemlin, and The Linux Foundation facilitates this success in many ways. It works downstream helping industry, government, and academia understand how to consume and contribute to open source. At the same, it works upstream to foster development and adoption of open source solutions, showing industries how to create value and generate reinvestment.

        During his keynote, Zemlin spoke with Sarah Novotny, Open Source Strategy Lead at Google Cloud, about Google’s support of open source development. In the talk, Novotny announced that Google Cloud is transferring ownership and management of the Kubernetes project’s cloud resources to CNCF community contributors and is additionally granting $9 million over three years to CNCF to cover infrastructure costs associated with Kubernetes development and distribution. Novotny, who noted that the project is actively seeking new contributors, said this commitment will provide the opportunity for more people to get involved.

      • New Open-Source Projects Emerge for Machine Learning

        Two open-source projects contributed by Chinese tech giants Baidu and Tencent will focus on machine and deep learning advances with the long-term goal of making the AI technologies easier to use while advancing cloud services using deep learning frameworks.

        The Linux Foundation said it would add the two projects to its deep learning community projects focused on boosting the ecosystem for AI, machine learning and deep learning. Tencent’s Angel Project consists of a distributed machine learning platform running on Apache Spark and YARN. Baidu’s Elastic Deep Learning (EDL) framework aims to allow cloud service providers to use deep learning tools to build clustered cloud offerings.

        Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), which has followed Google and other U.S. tech companies in steadily releasing its machine learning tools to the open-source community, said the EDL project will use its PaddlePaddle tool along with TensorFlow to accelerate cluster cloud services deployments. EDL uses the Kubernetes container orchestrator as a cluster controller along with a PaddlePaddle auto-scaler. The combination “changes the number of processes of distributed jobs to the idle hardware resource in the cluster, and a new fault-tolerable architecture,” the Linux Foundation said.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA 396.54.02 Vulkan Beta Driver Brings Some Fixes For DXVK

        NVIDIA today released new Vulkan beta drivers in the form of v399.17 for Windows and v396.54.02 for Linux.

        This latest NVIDIA Vulkan beta driver is mostly notable on the Windows front as there it adds support for VK_EXT_swapchain_colorspace and VK_EXT_hdr_metadata.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • Out with the Old ..

        KDE4 ports will be removed from FreeBSD ports on December 31st, 2018


        As for KDE4 itself: there haven’t been any upstream KDE4 releases since Applications 17.08.3, and Qt4 upon which it depends is EOL since 2015. The latest KDE Plasma desktop has been available in the official ports tree for over four months (and has been in use by users of Area51 for much much longer).

        So, given that there is a viable upgrade path (although, truth be told, you’ll probably have to re-configure KMail and get used to Falkon), we’ve decided to put a four month deprecation period on all the KDE4 ports. They will be removed at the end of this year, which will free up some maintainence time for chasing the steady stream of updates from the KDE community.

      • KDE4 Being Dropped From FreeBSD At The End Of The Year

        With KDE4 not having seen an upstream release in years and the old KDE4 code beginning to break under newer C++ compilers, the KDE-FreeBSD team has announced a four-month deprecation period after which they are dropping the KDE4 ports from the operating system.

        On 31 December 2018 is when the FreeBSD maintainers of these older KDE packages plan to drop the KDE4 packages from their tree.

      • KaOS 2018.08

        With almost 70 % percent of the packages updated since the last ISO and the last release being over two months old, a new ISO is more than due. No major changes this time to announce, as was with last ISO, just the usual large package movement. News for KDE Applications 18.08 included Dolphin updated context menu and a modernized ‘Settings’ dialog, Gwenview received a major overhaul, KMail has added support for travel data and Spectacle now has a magnifier to help you draw a selection rectangle.

        As always with this rolling distribution, you will find the very latest packages for the Plasma Desktop, this includes Frameworks 5.49.0, Plasma 5.13.4 and KDE Applications 18.08.0. All built on Qt 5.11.1.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Gnome 3 & best extensions

        There you go. Writing this article got me thinking. Gnome 3 is like Firefox 57. It brought about a radical change, made a lot of what made the original version great redundant, and hid options from users, making customization difficult. Gnome 3 also fights hard against extensions. But these are the bread and butter of what makes it useful, practical and appealing to users. The same is also true of Cinnamon, which has also partially been afflicted the same way. Technically, one may claim that extensions are a poor excuse for bad design, but then, in general, history has shown that they do make products more engaging in the long run. Collective intelligence can be a good thing, especially when harvested for free.

        I am still convinced that Gnome 3 is doing it wrong, and that Plasma, Unity or even MATE are much better solutions on all levels. But then, if you do want to use this desktop environment, there are several handy extensions that can truly transform the experience. The must-have set, and then a sweetening of five nice little extras, which help make the desktop more useful and fun. If you have any other suggestions, this is a good time to use your email sending skills. And we’re done.

      • Implementing power panel in Usage

        The power panel in gnome-usage intends to inform users about how different applications and hardware components are consuming power in their systems. For instance, how much does the screen affect overall power consumption, and how much impact on battery life can be ascertained by lowering the screen brightness by as little as 10%.

      • Message Search merged into Dino!

        I added an option to get back to the end of a conversation. A button offering this functionality appears as soon as the conversation isn’t scrolled all the way down anymore. This is handy after one clicked on a search result and ended up far up the conversation.

        Furthermore, I finished auto completion for search filters. This allows for way easier usage of filter terms, as you don’t have to write full addresses anymore. The auto-completion also searches in names, so in case you don’t know the corresponding address by heart, it still is easy to use.

  • Distributions
    • 5 Reasons You Should Use The Manjaro Linux Operating System

      If you haven’t started using Linux yet then you are probably already in a quandary about which of the hundreds of Linux distributions you should be using.

      Of course if you haven’t started using Linux yet then you might wonder why you should ditch Windows and use Linux in the first place. In this case you will want to read “10 reasons to replace Windows with Linux“.

      Should you ask the question “which distro should I use?” in a forum, in a chat room, on Reddit or via a tweet then you will commonly get the answers Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Zorin OS, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE and Arch.

    • SharkLinux Distro: Open Source in Action

      Every so often I run into a Linux distribution that reminds me of the power of open source software. SharkLinux is one such distribution. With a single developer creating this project, it attempts to change things up a bit. Some of those changes will be gladly welcomed by new users, while scoffed at by the Linux faithful. In the end, however, thanks to open source software, the developer of SharkLinux has created a distribution exactly how he would want it to be. And that my friends, is one amazing aspect of open source. We get to do it our way.

      But what is SharkLinux and what makes it stand out? I could make one statement about SharkLinux and end this now. The developer of SharkLinux reportedly developed the entire distribution using only an Android phone. That, alone, should have you wanting to give SharkLinux a go.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE Touts Financial Growth, Hints at Future Acquisitions

        SUSE will soon have a new owner, but it remains focused on easing the cloud native migration path for enterprise customers. In an interview with SDxCentral at this week’s Open Source Summit event in Vancouver, British Columbia, SUSE CTO Thomas Di Giacomo said the company plans to invest more into its core operations, but will also look at new acquisitions.

        That investment push comes on the heels of Swedish private equity fund EQT VIII announcing plans to acquire SUSE for $2.5 billion. SUSE has been owned by Micro Focus since late 2014 where it has operated as a semi-independent business under CEO Nils Brauckmann.

      • Registration, CfP for openSUSE Conference 2019 Open

        openSUSE is pleased to announce that registration and the call for papers for the openSUSE Conference 2019 (oSC19), which takes place in Nuremberg, Germany, are open.

        The dates for this year’s conference will be May 24 through May 26 once again at the Z-Bau. Submission for the call for papers will be open until Feb 3. Registration for the conference is open until the day oSC19 begins.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • [Debian birthday] And lo, we sacrificed to the gods of BBQ once more

        As is becoming something of a tradition by now, Jo and I hosted another OMGWTFBBQ at our place last weekend. People came from far and wide to enjoy themselves. Considering the summer heatwave we’ve had this year, we were a little unlucky with the weather. But with the power of gazebo technology we kept (mostly!) dry…

        I was too busy cooking and drinking etc. to take any photos myself, so here are some I sto^Wborrowed from my friends!

        We continued to celebrate Debian getting old..

      • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS (August 2018)
      • Chris Lamb: Free software activities in August 2018
      • Derivatives
        • LMDE 3 “Cindy” Cinnamon released!

          LMDE is a Linux Mint project and it stands for “Linux Mint Debian Edition”. Its main goal is for the Linux Mint team to see how viable our distribution would be and how much work would be necessary if Ubuntu was ever to disappear. LMDE aims to be as similar as possible to Linux Mint, but without using Ubuntu. The package base is provided by Debian instead.

          There are no point releases in LMDE. Other than bug fixes and security fixes Debian base packages stay the same, but Mint and desktop components are updated continuously. When ready, newly developed features get directly into LMDE, whereas they are staged for inclusion on the next upcoming Linux Mint point release.

        • Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 Now Shipping

          If you are a fan of Linux Mint and their GNOME/GTK-forked Cinnamon desktop but prefer not having the Ubuntu base, Linux Mint Debian Edition 3 “Cindy” is now available.

          One month after going into beta, LMDE 3 Cindy is officially shipping with a Debian package-set while including the latest Cinnamon desktop.

        • How to upgrade to LMDE 3

          If you’ve been waiting for this I’d like to thank you for your patience.

          It is now possible to upgrade the Cinnamon edition of LMDE 2 to version 3.

        • Linux Mint team release Debian-based LMDE 3 “Cindy”

          Following a month-long beta period Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) 3 “Cindy” has been released. Unlike the standard Linux Mint releases, new software from the Mint team, such as new versions of Cinnamon, become available right away, whereas you usually have to wait for the point release of standard Mint releases to get new major updates.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu 18.10 Won’t Include Android Integration After All

            Always possibility, and now sadly confirmed: Ubuntu 18.10 won’t ship with Android phone integration out of the box.

            The feature, provided by the GSconnect GNOME Shell extension, a Qt-free implementation of the KDE Connect service, was proposed for inclusion in Ubuntu 18.10 early on in the development cycle by Ubuntu desktop manager Will Cooke.

            Like many, we were excited by the notion of being able to boot up Ubuntu and view Android notifications on the desktop, transfer files to and from our phone using Nautilus, monitor battery life, keep tabs on calls, send SMS messages, and more.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Monthly News – August 2018

              Many thanks to all of you, for your donations and for your support.

              I hope you had a great summer (or winter if you live in the South hemisphere). Here we’re eager to get into September, with LMDE 3 and Mint 19 behind us, we’re ready to get started on some of the big projects.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • 6 open source tools for making your own VPN

    If you want to try your hand at building your own VPN but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll compare six of the best free and open source tools to set up and use a VPN on your own server. These VPNs work whether you want to set up a site-to-site VPN for your business or just create a remote access proxy to unblock websites and hide your internet traffic from ISPs.

    Which is best depends on your needs and limitations, so take into consideration your own technical expertise, environment, and what you want to achieve with your VPN. In particular, consider the following factors…

  • Faster Zlib Performance On ARM Thanks To NEON

    ARM developer Adenilson Cavalcanti has been working on optimizing the Zlib compression/decompression performance on ARM systems.

    By making use of ARM’s NEON instructions for SIMD, Adenilson was successful in squeezing better performance out of the ARM chips, among other tuning. With the Chromium Zlib code they were able to make compression 1.36x faster on average or 1.4x for compressing HTML. For decompression speeds they were 1.6x faster with Gzip and 1.8x faster for HTML.

  • It Looks Like Raptor Is Gearing Up To Release A New Open-Source POWER System

    Raptor Computer Systems began their open-source hardware expedition with the POWER8-based Talos Secure Workstation that was quite expensive but last year launched the Talos II platform with IBM POWER9 processors and earlier this year launched the Raptor Talos II Lite systems at a cheaper price-point but still quite a significant investment compared to x86_64 AMD/Intel products. They’ve been pushing ahead on making their platform more viable for Linux users as well as more affordable and it looks like they will soon be launching a new product.

    A Phoronix reader pointed out that Raptor is indicating they’ll be showing off a new system soon. In response to potential customer inquiries, they responded they are working to expand their product line and appears that they will likely show off a new product at the OpenPOWER Summit coming up in Amsterdam.

  • How Gap uses cloud and open source to thrive in the digital age

    When a retail organization decides to switch to a cloud architecture, there’s a great temptation to outsource the process, and simply start buying resources from one of the market leaders – like AWS, Google or Microsoft. American clothing and accessory retailer Gap, which has been part of the American Main Street for nearly 50 years, did the opposite – it decided to craft a custom private cloud platform to run its websites, using its own infrastructure, in-house expertise and popular open source tools like OpenStack and Cloud Foundry.

  • ReactOS 0.4.10 Release Candidate Available

    It’s just been over one month since the release of ReactOS 0.4.9 while the next version is beginning to formulate.

    A release candidate of ReactOS 0.4.10 is available for testing. ReactOS 0.4.10 has merged work for setup improvements, memory management improvements, x64 architecture fixes, various Win32 subsystem additions, initial work on FAT32 statistics support, several shell enhancements, and additions to many of the key DLLs — as well as syncing the user-mode DLLs against what’s found in Wine-Staging 3.9.

  • Storj Labs to create revenue opportunities for open source

    Storj Labs announced a new Open Source Partner Program this week designed to generate revenue for open-source projects and companies. The way the programs works by generating revenue as users of open-source partner software store data in the cloud, Storj Labs explained.

    This new program can be looked at as an open source and cloud alliance. “Traditional cloud infrastructure requires massive capital investment to build data centers. The cloud companies compete on the basis of huge economies of scale and (generally) narrow gross margins. And, they drive demand through fairly expensive sales & marketing, frequently using Open Source Software as a loss leader to drive revenue through infrastructure usage,” Ben Golub, Storj Labs executive chairman and interim CEO, wrote in a post.

    However, a decentralization infrastructure, which Storj provides, doesn’t require a lot of power, bandwidth or people, Golub explained. Storj aims to provide secure and private cloud storage at an affordable price without the need to operate on centralized data centers. It features segmented and distributed files, S3 compatible gateways and open-source components.

  • Storj Labs Launches Incentive Program For Open Source Projects

    Storj Labs, a provider of decentralized cloud storage network, has announced the launch of its Open Source Partner Program. This program aims at rewarding open source projects and companies when their users store data in the cloud.


    This is a new approach by a crypto startup as it aims to create economic empowerment on the Storj network. The launch of the program sees ten partners join in, including Confluent, Couchbase, FileZilla, InfluxData, MariaDB, Minio, MongoDBNextcloud, Pydio, and Zenko. What role these companies will play is yet to be disclosed.

    The company also announced the launch of the V3 private Alpha. This was after a successful upgrade of the V3 network. Developments of this network have been underway since the beginning of the year. The company consequently promised to release a Whitepaper and update their licensing for the network. The upgrade was aimed at achieving better scalability. The company now says that the V3 private Alpha will be first run on a test environment to ensure that it’s stable.

  • Hazelcast Change CEO, Pledge Continued Open-Source Commitments

    Hazelcast, makers of open-source developer-focused infrastructure components, including an in-memory data grid (IMDG) and a stream processing engine (Hazelcast Jet) have been through a management change.

    The previous CEO, Greg Luck, moves to become Chief Technology Officer (a position he previously held) and member of the board. The incoming CEO is Kelly Herrell, a Silicon Valley veteran who was most recently Senior Vice President and General Manager of Brocade Communications, as a result of Brocade’s acquisition of Vyatta where Herrell was Chief Executive Officer.

  • SD Times Open-Source Project of the Week: Nyoka

    Software AG is aiming to bring the burgeoning world of artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, machine learning and deep learning in line with the statistical and data mining industry standard of the Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML).

    Nyoka is a Python library, compatible with Python 3.5+, which features full support for the PMML XML-based predictive model and provides data preprocessing, script execution and deep neural networks through extensions. Through Nyoka, Software AG explains users can export PMML implementations of a large number from popular machine learning and deep learning Python frameworks. For any that aren’t supported out of the box, users can create their own exporters.

  • Open source low-code platforms extend app dev capabilities

    Open source low-code platforms are growing in popularity because there is more flexibility for app customization and ownership compared to proprietary products. The current generation of open source products has vendor support, expert consultation and training available, but enterprises can also rely on the community at large for support without fear of lock-in. However, there are a lot of options in the market right now, and enterprises need to find the right platform for their goals.

    Explore these three popular open source low-code platforms.

  • Who Is Paying for Open Source?

    There is a misconception among some that open source is free. In a keynote at the Open Source Summit, Angel Diaz, Vice President of Developer Technology, Open Source and Advocacy at IBM outlined who actually is paying for open source.

    According to Diaz, the “second awakening” of open source technologies is now occurring with the growth of open cloud, artificial intelligence and transactional architectures.

    “We are reinventing and democratizing technology and doing it in a way that is open and allows everyone to gain value,” Diaz said.

    Diaz said that when asking the question about who is paying for open source, the question isn’t just about money for services and product, it’s about time and investment. From his perspective, there are three core groups that pay for open source: consortia, enterprises and individuals.

    The Consortia includes groups like the Eclipse Foundation and the Linux Foundation, among many others. Diaz said that consortia have helped to establish the end user as a first class entity for the consumption of open source software.

  • Events
    • Technoshamanism meeting in Axat, France (October 5 to 8)

      We still enjoy temporary autonomous zones, new ways of life, of art / life, we try to think and cooperate towards the goal of food self-sufficiency and interdependence, towards the reforestation of the Earth, and towards the ancestorfuturist fertilization of the imagination. Our main practice is to promote networks of the unconscious to strengthen the desire to form communities as well as proposing alternatives to the “productive” thinking of science and technology.

    • Annual computer graphics conference encourages use of open source

      It’s been a few years since I last attended the annual SIGGRAPH Conference. If you’re not familiar with SIGGRAPH, it’s a special interest group within the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) that focuses on computer graphics. It holds a North American conference every year, usually on the western side of the continent. This year it was in Vancouver, Canada.

      I like to describe the conference as the largest gathering of artists, researchers, and technicians (and some marketers, of course) with a focus on computer graphics. They come from all over the world to share what they know, learn from their peers, and show off their new toys. It’s one of my favorite conferences to attend.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Firefox 65 Will Block Cross Site Tracking

        An upcoming version of Firefox will block cross site tracking by default.

        The feature will be part of Firefox 65, coming out in December, though users of the Nightly releases have it right now. Cross-site tracking is where ads use cookies to follow you around the web. Mozilla plans to block access to cookies in some cases ands delete them entirely in others.

      • Firefox Browser Will Soon Block All Web Trackers By Default

        There’s no denying the fact that data collection on the web is one of the fundamental ways how our Internet actually works. But then comes the practice of unchecked data collection, which brings along tons of negative impacts like performance impact and data breaches.

        It seems that Mozilla is planning to block all kinds of web trackers by default in the upcoming releases. This might be a massive blow to the advertisers in the regions where Firefox enjoys a more significant market share.

      • Experimental Code Allows Vulkan-Accelerated Gecko/Firefox On Linux

        With some out-of-tree code of Firefox Nightly with a modified version of Gecko using GFX-RS, it’s possible to use the web-browser powered by the Vulkan API on Linux.

        Hungarian developer Attila Dusnoki shared the milestone this week of being able to run Gecko with Vulkan on Linux.

        This is part of the effort to run Gecko with GFX-RS. GFX-RS, of course, is the Rust portability initiative with low-level graphics abstractions to map to Vulkan, Metal, Direct3D, etc, depending upon the platform.

      • Firefox to Block Tracking by Default, ZeroPhone Project Coming Soon, Google Code-in 2018, OpenStack Releases Version 18 “Rocky” and Greg Kroah-Hartman on Meltdown and Spectre Vulnerabilities

        Mozilla yesterday announced a different approach to anti-tracking on the internet. Mozilla’s new approach means that “in the near future, Firefox will—by default—protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites.” In order to accomplish this, Mozilla has three key initiatives: improve page load performance, remove cross-site tracking and mitigate harmful practices.

      • This Week in Mixed Reality: Issue 18, Hubs Edition

        Hubs attendance is going strong. Along the way several people requested a space that was wide open and not distracting when they are sharing content, so the team added a new scene style called Wide Open Space, and it’s live now!

      • Firefox 62 new contributors

        With the upcoming release of Firefox 62, we are pleased to welcome the 48 developers who contributed their first code change to Firefox in this release, 35 of whom were brand new volunteers!

      • Extensions in Firefox 63

        Firefox 63 is rolling into Beta and it’s absolutely loaded with new features for extensions. There are some important new API, some major enhancements to existing API, and a large collection of miscellaneous improvements and bug fixes. All told, this is the biggest upgrade to the WebExtensions API since the release of Firefox Quantum.

        An upgrade this large would not have been possible in a single release without the hard work of our Mozilla community. Volunteer contributors landed over 25% of all the features and bug fixes for WebExtensions in Firefox 63, a truly remarkable effort. We are humbled and grateful for your support of Firefox and the open web. Thank you.

        Note: due to the large volume of changes in this release, the MDN documentation is still catching up. I’ve tried to link to MDN where possible, and more information will appear in the weeks leading up to the public release of Firefox 63.

      • Mozilla Addons Blog: September’s featured extensions
  • Education
    • 3 innovative open source projects for the new school year

      I first wrote about open source learning software for educators in the fall of 2013. Fast-forward five years—today, open source software and principles have moved from outsiders in the education industry to the popular crowd.

      Since Penn Manor School District has adopted open software and cultivated a learning community built on trust, we’ve watched student creativity, ingenuity, and engagement soar. Here are three free and open source software tools we’ve used during the past school year. All three have enabled great student projects and may spark cool classroom ideas for open-minded educators.

    • Movement monitor

      An open-source AI tool for studying movement across behaviors and species


      “We want as many researchers as possible to benefit from our work,” said Bethge. “DeepLabCut was created as an open software, as sharing results, data, and also algorithms is essential for scientific progress.”

      Even as the paper describing the software was published, the technology had been used by more than 50 labs to study everything from the gait of horses to bacteria dynamics to the movement of surgery robots.

      The software toolbox can be used with minimal to no coding experience and is freely available at

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • Funding
  • BSD
    • RSS Feed available for OpenBSD-current special instructions

      I wrote a script generating a RSS file from the content of the page

    • A Look At DragonFlyBSD’s Kernel Tuning Performance On The AMD Threadripper 2990WX

      Last week I posted some initial tests and benchmarks of DragonFlyBSD/FreeBSD on the AMD Threadripper 2990WX. While that went well and the BSDs scale with this 32-core / 64-thread processor better than Windows, lead DragonFly developer Matthew Dillon had picked up a 2990WX system and has been tuning the kernel ever since. Here are some benchmarks looking at some of his recent optimizations.

      Hours after that BSD Threadripper testing ended last week, Matthew Dillon landed some more performance tuning/optimizations to benefit the Threadripper 2990WX design. Here are some benchmarks of that original 2990WX support on DragonFlyBSD 5.3-DEVELOPMENT compared to the later daily snapshot.

    • OpenBSD on the Microsoft Surface Go

      For some reason I like small laptops and the constraints they place on me (as long as they’re still usable). I used a Dell Mini 9 for a long time back in the netbook days and was recently using an 11″ MacBook Air as my primary development machine for many years. Recently Microsoft announced a smaller, cheaper version of its Surface tablets called Surface Go which piqued my interest.

    • OpenRISC port accepted for inclusion in GCC

      I am pleased to announce that the GCC Steering Committee has
      accepted the OpenRISC port for inclusion in GCC and appointed
      Stafford Horne as maintainer.

    • OpenRISC Will Be Accepted Into The GCC Compiler

      The GCC Steering Committee is accepting OpenRISC as the newest architecture port for inclusion into the GNU Compiler Collection.

      While OpenRISC has been around longer than the RISC-V ISA that is already supported in GCC, the OpenRISC port had run into complications. The original developers working on the OpenRISC GCC code were not okay with the required copyright assignment of the code to the Free Software Foundation as a requirement for upstreaming the work.

  • Public Services/Government
    • Dutch government to remove legal barriers to sharing code as open source

      The Dutch government plans to remove legal roadblocks to allow public services to publish the source code of their ICT solutions. A pending proposal from the government to the parliament will change the country’s rules of conduct that minimise interference with the private sector. Next year, the government will begin encouraging public services to publish their source code publicly.

      In recent months, the government has been working on a proposal to change itsrules of conduct. The proposal has not yet been submitted to the Dutch parliament, but the changes are anticipated in NL DIGIbeter, a brochure detailing the country’s digital agenda that was published in August. This week, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry referred to the brochure when asked about pending changes to the rules of conduct.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • It’s Time To Reject The Latest Attack On Open Source Software

      Open source software is under attack. Again. And so it’s beholden on all of us to take a stand before the current scourge marginalizes the wonderous benefits of open source (which accrue to every human) and the organization which looks after both the sanctity of the open source movement and the integrity of the licenses behind it: the Open Source Initiative.

      Whether you know it or not, all humans are the beneficiaries of open source software in almost everything we do in our digital lives. Most of everything we use — the smartphones, the cable modem routers, our desktops and laptops, the Web sites and services we access, the APIs at work under the hood of it all — is built using open source software (in all or in part). It can be easily argued that all of our user experiences would be a lot suckier and slower were it not for the open source model and how it drives innovation (much of it charitable) which trickles into every digital moment without exception. Some experiences that add value to our lives might not exist at all were it not for open source.

    • Open Source Devs Reverse Decision to Block ICE Contractors From Using Software

      Less than 24 hours after a software developer revoked access to Lerna, a popular open-source software management program, for any organization that contracted with US immigrations and Customs Enforcement, access has been restored for any organization that wishes to use it and the developer has been removed from the project.

      The reversal underscores the inherent duality of open source development. The community’s commitment to total freedom means that anyone can use the code as they please, even in ways that the developers might find repugnant. It’s the price the community has accepted for the manifold benefits that open source software provides.

      As Motherboard reported on Wednesday, open-source developer Jamie Kyle changed the terms of Lerna’s license so that any groups working with ICE would be barred from using the software. The modified version specifically banned 16 organizations, including Microsoft, Palantir, Amazon, Northeastern University, Johns Hopkins University, Dell, Xerox, LinkedIn, and UPS. Lerna was originally controlled by the MIT license, one of the most permissive open-source agreements.

    • ​Javascript Tool Maker Relents After Mixing Immigration Politics with Open Source Licensing

      In very short order, Lerna, a company that offers some Javascript tooling, has learned the hard way not to mess with the integrity of an open source license. In other words, don’t decide you’re going to take an existing OSI-certified open source license, modify it to suit your agenda, license your code under the newly derived license, and still continue to refer to your offering as “open source.”

      First, this analysis piece is really just a follow up to my previous post about why it’s time to reject the latest attack on open source software (OSS). The main point of that post was to point out that all of us who have experienced the benefits of open source (ok, that’s nearly all human beings) should play a role in defending it. Otherwise, it will whither and so too will the benefits most of us have come to enjoy, blind to the fact that open source is playing such an important role in our lives.

    • Does Redis’ Commons Clause threaten open-source software?
    • Get a Jump on Reducing Your Open Source Software Security Risks [Ed: Anti-FOSS firm Veracode/CA pays IDG for spam which stigmatises FOSS as lacking security]
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • How to Conduct an Open-Source Investigation, According to the Founder of Bellingcat

      On a recent afternoon in central London, twelve people sat in a hotel conference room trying to figure out the exact latitude and longitude at which the actress Sharon Stone once posed for a photo in front of the Taj Mahal. Among them were two reporters, a human-rights lawyer, and researchers and analysts in the fields of international conflict, forensic science, online extremism, and computer security. They had each paid around twenty-four hundred dollars to join a five-day workshop led by Eliot Higgins, the founder of the open-source investigation Web site Bellingcat. Higgins had chosen this Sharon Stone photo because the photographer was standing on a raised terrace, which makes the angles confusing, and used a lens that makes Stone appear closer to the Taj than she actually was. The participants, working on laptops, compared the trees and paths visible in the photo to their correlates on Google Earth.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Boffins trying to build a open source secure enclave on RISC-V

        At some point this fall, a team of researchers from MIT’s CSAIL and UC Berkeley’s EECS aim to deliver an initial version of an open source, formally verified, secure hardware enclave based on RISC-V architecture called Keystone.

        “From a security community perspective, having trustworthy secure enclaves is really important for building secure systems,” said Dawn Song, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley and founder and CEO of Oasis Labs, in a phone interview with The Register. “You can say it’s one of the holy grails in computer security.”

  • Programming/Development
    • Python Natural Language Processing Tools

      Natural language processing (NLP) is an exciting field of computer science, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages. It includes word and sentence tokenization, text classification and sentiment analysis, spelling correction, information extraction, parsing, meaning extraction, and question answering.

      In our formative years, we master the basics of spoken and written language. However, the vast majority of us do not progress past some basic processing rules when we learn how to handle text in our applications. Yet unstructured software comprises the majority of the data we see. NLP is the technology for dealing with our all-pervasive product: human language, as it appears in social media, emails, web pages, tweets, product descriptions, newspaper stories, and scientific articles, in thousands of languages and variants.

      Many challenges in NLP involve natural language understanding. In other words, computers learn how to determine meaning from human or natural language input, and others involve natural language generation.

    • PHP version 7.1.22RC1 and 7.2.10RC1

      Release Candidate versions are available in remi-test repository for Fedora and Enterprise Linux (RHEL / CentOS) to allow more people to test them. They are available as Software Collections, for a parallel installation, perfect solution for such tests (for x86_64 only), and also as base packages.

      RPM of PHP version 7.2.10RC1 are available as SCL in remi-test repository and as base packages in the remi-test repository for Fedora 28-29 or remi-php72-test repository for Fedora 26-27 and Enterprise Linux.

      RPM of PHP version 7.1.22RC1 are available as SCL in remi-test repository and as base packages in the remi-test repository for Fedora 26-27 or remi-php71-test repository for Enterprise Linux.

    • Announcing Google Code-in 2018: nine is just fine!

      We are excited to announce the 9th consecutive year of the Google Code-in (GCI) contest! Students ages 13 through 17 from around the world can learn about open source development by working on real open source projects, with mentorship from active developers. GCI begins on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 and runs for seven weeks, ending Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

      Google Code-in is unique because, not only do the students choose what they want to work on from the 2,500+ tasks created by open source organizations, but they have mentors available to help answer their questions as they work on each of their tasks.

    • A small HTTP debug server in Go

      Lately, I found myself to work on an application that was communicating via SOAP with a server. My goal was to understand how this application worked with the SOAP server to emulate its behavior. Even if I had access to the source code of the application, I thought it would have been easier, faster and more fun to do the work without actually reading the code. It’s important to note that actually, the application is fairly small and self-contained. Otherwise, I would have probably taken a different approach.

      Since I was not very interested in the application itself, but more to the SOAP API, I decided to handle the whole situation as a reverse-engineering effort. One nice thing about this application, like many others, is that it’s possible to set the server URL with a command line configuration.

    • Franken-algorithms: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code

      “In some ways we’ve lost agency. When programs pass into code and code passes into algorithms and then algorithms start to create new algorithms, it gets farther and farther from human agency. Software is released into a code universe which no one can fully understand.”

  • How Harry Potter changed the world

    Almost exactly 20 years ago, on September 1, 1998, Scholastic published Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first US edition of the UK’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

  • What I could not undiscover about Unikernels.

    Unikernels have been around for a while but remain a relatively unknown technology. The core idea of a Unikernel is …

  • Science
    • Child drownings in Germany linked to parents’ phone ‘fixation’

      The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) – the biggest organisation of its kind in the world, providing 40,000 volunteer lifeguards at German beaches, lakes and the coast – has made a direct connection between children getting into difficulty in the water and parents being too busy on their mobile phones to notice.

    • Who Owns Faculty Work at Purdue Global?

      Faculty leaders are sounding the alarm about what they call a highly restrictive employee agreement at Purdue University Global — one that requires academics to potentially waive their rights to course materials they create.

      It also prohibits ex-employees from hiring former Purdue colleagues for a year — or from bad-mouthing Purdue once they’re gone.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • New research uncovers ‘one of the tobacco industry’s greatest scams’

      Two new studies from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, published in the BMJ journal, Tobacco Control, expose evidence that big tobacco companies are still facilitating tobacco smuggling, while attempting to control a global system designed to prevent it, and funding studies that routinely overestimate levels of tobacco smuggling.

    • Major funding announcement puts Bath TCRG at centre of new $20 million global industry watchdog

      Andy Rowell, Research Fellow and co-editor of TobaccoTactics said: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant. By shining a light on the tobacco industry’s activities we will identify its latest marketing and lobbying tactics, its front groups and spokespeople. In this way our work will increase the transparency of policy making, reduce the industry’s ability to block the work of policy makers around the world, inform new legislative approaches and hold the industry to account.”

    • How to Calculate the Costs of #MedicareForAll Properly
    • Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar

      Each vine that Leon prunes holds pods – also known as beans – that will eventually retail for more than $150 (£120), once they are dried.

      To deter theft, all the farmers in the surrounding area are stamping their names, or sometimes serial numbers, on to individual pods while they’re still on the vine. Even when the pods are dried, the markings can be made out.

    • Schools close as haze worsens in Pontianak in Indonesia’s West Kalimantan

      National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said hotspots detected in West Kalimantan had decreased to 526 by 8.22am local time on Monday. On the morning of Aug 16, the BNPB had recorded 1,061 hotspots across the province.

    • More than 2 billion people lack safe drinking water. That number will only grow.

      A major United Nations report, released in June, shows that the world is not on track to meet a U.N. goal: to bring safe water and sanitation to everyone by 2030. And by 2050, half the world’s population may no longer have safe water.

    • Safe Drinking Water for All

      The agricultural fee revenues would be targeted to address nitrate contamination from fertilizers, a common problem in farming areas. Money raised by the voluntary contributions, which would be collected from water customers unless they opt out, would be directed to disadvantaged communities suffering from water contamination caused by a range of pollutants, such as arsenic and uranium. Together, these sources are expected to raise $100 million or more a year.

    • Senators demand answers on reported lead poisoning at Army bases

      Reuters reported that more than 1,000 young children tested at military clinics had elevated lead levels between 2011 and 2016. It also found military bases failed to report children’s blood test results to state health departments in violation of state laws.

    • Flint water crisis: Michigan health director ordered to manslaughter trial

      Involuntary manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Lyon is also charged with felony misconduct in office for allegedly obstructing academic researchers from studying the outbreak, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Last, he faces a misdemeanor charge of willful neglect in office.

    • Flint water crisis: How AI is finding thousands of hazardous pipes
    • State knew of PFAS in Flint River before switch, but city may not have been told

      The report — “Measuring Perfluorinated Compounds in Michigan Surface Waters and Fish” — showed that two samples from the river — both taken downstream, north of Flint — had the second- and third-highest concentrations of PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — in testing at 13 separate sites in the state in 2011 and 2013.

    • Dangerous Chemicals Found in Flint River Water Before the Lead Crisis Started [Updated]

      The state’s Department of Human Health and Services (DDHS) discovered the Flint River was experiencing increased levels of contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, a year before the city of Flint switch to this river as its drinking water source in 2014. This group of synthetic chemicals has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, obesity, and immune dysfunction.iThe state’s Department of Human Health and Services (DDHS) discovered the Flint River was experiencing increased levels of contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, a year before the city of Flint switch to this river as its drinking water source in 2014. This group of synthetic chemicals has been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, obesity, and immune dysfunction.

    • EPA whistleblower says he warned Michigan DEQ it was wrong about Flint water

      An Environmental Protection Agency whistleblower who helped expose Flint’s lead in water problems says he told state drinking water officials that the city should have been required to treat Flint River water to make it less corrosive — something that never happened.

    • Michigan’s top public health official to stand trial for 2 deaths connected with Flint water crisis
    • Nick Lyon’s criminal Flint water crisis case moving to trial

      Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter, willful neglect of duty and misconduct in office for the deaths of John Snyder and Robert Skidmore. Both men allegedly died from Legionnaires’ disease caused by Flint switching its drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

    • Think twice before eating raw fish — here’s why

      Raw fish, such as sushi, and other uncooked seafood may be delicious, but they also may be dangerous — even life-threatening — if prepared inexpertly.

    • Air pollution is shaving a year off our average life expectancy

      The study, using 2016 country data from the Global Burden of Disease project, is the first major look at country-specific mortality impacts of fine particulate matter — bits of pollution, known as PM2.5, that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or 30 times smaller than the width of an average human hair. And it’s the first to present those impacts in terms of life expectancy, rather than death or disease rates (SN: 11/25/17, p. 5). The approach is aimed at making the risk more relatable, says Joshua Apte, an environmental scientist at the University of Texas at Austin.

    • Overdose Deaths Reached Record Level of 72,000 in 2017, New Estimates Show

      Drug overdoses killed more than 72,300 Americans last year, a record and a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control.

    • UN Tuberculosis Negotiations: What Is At Stake?

      With negotiations over the final language of a United Nations high level declaration on ending tuberculosis still ongoing, the stakes are high as different TB stakeholders await the outcome. The language in question could either raise or reduce barriers to affordable access to life-saving TB drugs, according to civil society groups.

    • Special Report: Children poisoned by lead on U.S. Army bases as hazards ignored

      For years, he has told the Army of failures to defend children on U.S. bases from lead poisoning, a preventable household health hazard. Ingesting the heavy metal can severely affect mental and physical development, especially in children, causing brain damage and other potentially lifelong health impacts. But poisoning is avoidable if old homes containing lead paint are properly monitored and maintained.

      “There is no acceptable number of children that the Army can allow to be so egregiously hurt,” Cale wrote in a letter to the Army Office of the Inspector General last year, describing the poisoning of JC and hundreds of other military kids he was aware of. He hasn’t received a response to the letter’s concerns.

    • Citizens’ initiative to ban FGM set for parliamentary consideration

      A citizens’ initiative demanding that lawmakers draw up a specific law to outlaw FGM in Finland has attracted over 50,000 signatures. This means it has met the threshold enacted in a 2012 Finnish law, and the Finnish Parliament must now put the item on its agenda and discuss it as if it were any other legislative proposal.

    • Girl, 3, ‘needed emergency surgery after botched FGM in London’

      The principal charge presented at Thames magistrates’ court today is the allegation of FGM. It accuses the couple of having “excised, infibulated or otherwise mutilated the whole or a part of a girl’s labia minora and clitoris” in August last year.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Friday
    • Chinese hackers [sic] scanned business, government websites in Alaska
    • Chinese hackers [sic] targeted U.S. firms, government after trade mission: researchers
    • Introducing the Tink cryptographic software library

      Tink aims to provide cryptographic APIs that are secure, easy to use correctly, and hard(er) to misuse. Tink is built on top of existing libraries such as BoringSSL and Java Cryptography Architecture, but includes countermeasures to many weaknesses in these libraries, which were discovered by Project Wycheproof, another project from our team.

    • Amazon Alexa Security Risk Allows Hackers to Take Over Voice Commands, Steal Private Information

      The world is changing and in the modern era, we are becoming reliant on our Internet of Things devices by the day. But this reliances could cost us everything, it could allow someone to steal our identity, bank information, medical history, and what not.

      Amazon Alexa has been criticised for having a number of security flaws but Amazon has been quick to deal with them. However, this new security flaw may not have a fix at all. And this could be the most dangerous security threat yet.

      According to research conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Amazon Alexa’s idiosyncrasies can be exploited through voice-commands to route users to malicious websites. Hackers are targeting the loopholes in machine learning algorithms to access private information.

    • Researchers show Alexa “skill squatting” could hijack voice commands

      The success of Internet of Things devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home have created an opportunity for developers to build voice-activated applications that connect ever deeper—into customers’ homes and personal lives. And—according to research by a team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)—the potential to exploit some of the idiosyncrasies of voice-recognition machine-learning systems for malicious purposes has grown as well.

      Called “skill squatting,” the attack method (described in a paper presented at USENIX Security Symposium in Baltimore this month) is currently limited to the Amazon Alexa platform—but it reveals a weakness that other voice platforms will have to resolve as they widen support for third-party applications. Ars met with the UIUC team (which is comprised of Deepak Kumar, Riccardo Paccagnella, Paul Murley, Eric Hennenfent, Joshua Mason, Assistant Professor Adam Bates, and Professor Michael Bailey) at USENIX Security. We talked about their research and the potential for other threats posed by voice-based input to information systems.

    • The Linux Foundation Set to Improve Open-Source Code Security

      CII is now working on further trying to identify which projects matter to the security of the internet as a whole, rather than taking a broader approach of looking at every single open-source project, he said. In his view, by prioritizing the projects that are the most critical to the operation of the internet and modern IT infrastructure, the CII can be more effective in improving security.

      “You’ll see in the next three months or so, additional activity coming out of CII,” Zemlin said.

      Among the new activities coming from the CII, will be additional human resources as well as new funding. The Linux Foundation had raised $5.8 million from contributors to help fund CII efforts, which Zemlin said has now all been spent. Zemlin that CII’s money was used to fund development work for OpenSSL, NTP (Network Time Protocol) and conducting audits.

    • Apache Struts 2.3.25 and 2.5.17 resolve Cryptojacking Exploit Vulnerability

      Information regarding a severe vulnerability found in Apache Struts was revealed last week. A proof of concept of the vulnerability was also published publicly along with the vulnerability’s details. Since then, it seems that malicious attackers have set out to repeatedly exploit the vulnerability to remotely install a cryptocurrency mining software on users’ devices and steal cryptocurrency through the exploit. The vulnerability has been allotted the CVE identification label CVE-2018-11776.

      This behavior was first spotted by the security and data protection IT company, Volexity, and since its discovery, the rate of exploits has been increasing rapidly, drawing attention to the critical severity of the Apache Struts vulnerability. The company released the following statement on the issue: “Volexity has observed at least one threat actor attempting to exploit CVE-2018-11776 en masse in order to install the CNRig cryptocurrency miner. The initial observed scanning originated from the Russian and French IP addresses and”

    • Windows Task Scheduler Micropatch Released by 0patch

      Earlier this week, a user on Twitter who goes by the username SandboxEscaper posted on the social media platform’s feed with information regarding a zero-day local privilege escalation vulnerability plaguing Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The user, SandboxEscaper, also included a proof of concept along with his post which was linked through to via a GitHub website reference containing the proof of concept in detail.


      Surprisingly, SandboxEscaper disappeared off of Twitter entirely with his account disappearing from the mainstream feeds soon after the information regarding the zero-day Windows exploit was posted. It seems that the user is now back on Twitter (or is fluctuating off and on the social media site), but no new information has been shared on the issue.

    • Linux Kernel up to 4.15-rc3 Crypto Subsystem memory corruption

      The weakness was shared 08/30/2018 as bug report (Bugzilla). The advisory is available at This vulnerability is traded as CVE-2018-14619 since 07/27/2018. Local access is required to approach this attack. A single authentication is needed for exploitation. The technical details are unknown and an exploit is not available. The structure of the vulnerability defines a possible price range of USD $5k-$25k at the moment (estimation calculated on 08/31/2018).

    • CVE-2018-14619: New Critical Linux Kernel Vulnerability

      A new Linux kernel vulnerability identified as CVE-2018-14619 has been discovered by Red Hat Engineering researchers Florian Weimer and Ondrej Mosnacek. More particularly, the flaw was found in the crypto subsystem of the Linux kernel.

    • Air Canada app data breach involves passport numbers

      It believes data has been stolen [sic] from about 20,000 of these, and has informed members of this group via email.

    • Air Canada confirms mobile app data breach

      According to an email to customers, attackers may have accessed basic profile data, including names, email addresses and phone numbers — but also more sensitive data that users may have added to their profiles, including passport numbers and expiry date, passport country of issuance, NEXUS numbers for trusted travelers, gender, dates of birth, nationality and country of residence.

    • Air Canada says 20,000 mobile app users affected by data breach

      The app stores names and contact information, which may have been accessed.

      It also may hold information such as passport and NEXUS card numbers, gender, birth date, nationality and credit card numbers.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • The global arms trade is booming. Buyers are spoiled for choice

      Britain, meanwhile, claims that last year it jumped to third place among global arms exporters, as measured by the value of their sales. According to the Defence and Security Organisation, a government body, America bagged 53% of the global business, its “highest-ever market share”. This left 16% for Russia and 12% for Britain, double the share taken by France.

    • Mistaken for vampires and accused of witchcraft, BBC crew ‘nearly stoned to death’ in Malawi

      “They were going to end our lives,” Anas said, as he recalled their flight from the angry villagers. The team managed to escape by running for their lives into the night, later to be saved by community police and a local chief.

      They suffering injuries from stones being thrown by the mob and one of the cars the team was travelling in was also destroyed. Kamanga and his associate also managed to escape in the confusion.

    • Dutch Muslim Parties: A New Development in Islamization

      The emergence of Muslim political parties in the Netherlands is a new facet of Islamization. One of these parties, Denk, has three seats in parliament and is also represented at the local level, as are other Muslim parties. They usually oppose integration and do not accept Dutch culture as the country’s dominant culture. Anti-Semitism is a regular attribute, often disguised as hate speech against Israel.

    • Police officer stabbed in southern Sweden

      A police officer was stabbed while on duty on Wednesday evening in the southern Swedish town of Växjö.

    • Gothenburg car fires: Swedish man arrested in Turkey

      “After some intense investigating we actually found out he was on his way to Turkey, so we contacted the police in Turkey and told them that we would like to have this man back for investigation,” Brehm said. The man is expected to return to Sweden on Wednesday.

    • Mykkänen: Finland seeing same signs of gang activity that Sweden saw 10 years ago
    • UK: Syrian Terrorists Can’t Possibly Be Planning Chemical Weapons False Flag, Because Russia Said They Are

      In a recent meeting with the press, British ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierce told reporters that it is absolutely unthinkable that the terrorist factions in the terrorist-held Syrian province of Idlib could possibly be planning a terrorist attack using chemical weapons with the intention of blaming it on the Syrian government.

      Her reasoning? Since the Russian government has been warning of this possibility, the exact opposite must necessarily therefore be true.


      So let’s recap: it is the British government’s official public position that the extremist jihadist factions who have been holing up in their final stronghold preparing for the long-awaited military confrontation in Idlib would have no incentive whatsoever to stage a false flag chemical attack in order to rally western reinforcements against the Syrian government and thereby escape defeat. Far more likely, in the British government’s estimation, is that the warnings of such an attack are a “smoke screen” to cover for the Syrian government’s plan to perpetrate its own chemical attack in order to accomplish the key strategic goal of suffocating a few dozen children. Oh yeah, and terrorists should be given safe passage to areas where they can safely regroup, because that’s the thing that you do with terrorists now.

      Never mind that those terrorist factions would stand everything to gain and nothing to lose in a last-ditch false flag attempt to recruit powerful allies to their cause. Never mind that these are actual, literal terrorists who have no qualms about killing civilians in order to advance their cause. Never mind that US National Security Advisor John Bolton has already effectively guaranteed those same terrorists that the US and its allies will join in their aggressions against the Syrian government by publicly announcing that any chemical attacks will be met with the strongest retaliation yet. All of that is invalidated by Russians having said something about it, because if Russians say something, the opposite of what they said must necessarily be true. Because God is drunk and everyone’s crazy.

    • ‘We Would Be Opening the Heavens to War’

      While the internet treated it largely as a kind of painful joke, corporate news media reported the Trump White House’s plans to establish a “Space Force” as the sixth branch of the US military as almost an inevitability: A Los Angeles Times story slips from saying the force “would be” responsible for training military personnel to saying the space command “will centralize planning for space war-fighting.” The pushback reported is from those concerned about “bureaucracy,” or changes in the “roles and budgets” of existing military branches. There are details to be worked out—even such “basic” ones, says a Washington Post front-pager, as “what uniforms” the space force would use. But coverage presents potential opposition to the plan, from congressmembers, for example, more as a “hurdle” than a cause for deeper investigation.

    • DeVos won’t say whether state grant money can be used to buy guns for schools

      Experts say the announcement clears the way for states to spend money on guns.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Why cross-border coherence matters

      Many of the biggest whistleblower disclosures of recent years have been international in nature – LuxLeaks and the Panama Papers in particular. As pointed out by the Greens in the European Parliament, there is a general European public interest that often supersedes the national interests of a single member state.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • This Swedish city may be a model for cutting emissions while maintaining growth

      The Swedish city of Vaxjo has done what some say is impossible: cut emissions and continue to grow economically. The city plans to eliminate carbon emissions from fossil fuels by 2030, far ahead of the timetable set by almost 200 nations in the Paris climate agreement.

    • The Trump administration’s latest plan to prop up coal

      “It’s revealing if you don’t think about this as a climate policy, but as a coal-subsidisation policy,” says Joseph Goffman, executive director of the Harvard Environment and Energy Law Programme and an architect of the CPP. A leaked set of White House talking-points given to The Economist confirms this. Climate change and global warming—usually the professed reasons for carbon regulation—go unmentioned. “A diverse, reliable energy portfolio is essential to the president’s goal of energy dominance,” the document reads. “Energy dominance is good for America and good for the world.”

    • The Everglades has endured decades of human meddling. Now it faces a more relentless foe: rising seas.

      South Florida is ground zero when it comes to sea level rise in the United States. By 2100, waters near Key West are projected to be as much as two meters above current mean sea level. Daily high tides are expected to flood many of Miami’s streets. The steady encroachment of saltwater is already changing the landscape, killing off saw grass and exposing the land to erosion.

      Against this looming threat, Everglades ecologists and hydrogeologists are racing to find ways to mitigate the damage before the land is reclaimed by the ocean, irrevocably lost.

    • World Population Growth Visualized (1950-2100)
    • Millions of pounds of dead fish have washed up on Florida beaches. This is what happens to them next

      The amounts of fish and ocean creatures being brought in are slowing down, but the beaches are still being cleaned up. The county and islands have collected millions of pounds of fish and sea creatures after a large Red Tide outbreak. Where does it go in the end? The landfill. Once the ocean creatures are collected from the beaches, they are brought to the landfill, mixed with other trash, and then burned.

    • There’s a new insecticide on the block, and it’s also bad news for bees

      “Sulfoximine-based insecticides are the most likely successor [to neonicotinoids]” write the University of London’s Harry Siviter and his colleagues in a paper published in Nature this week. And that’s not great, as they found that bumblebee colonies exposed to a sulfoximine-based insecticide called sulfoxaflor suffered severe effects compared to a control colony. The insecticide didn’t kill the bees, but it damaged their ability to run a successful colony—a similar effect to neonicotinoids.

    • Stone-stacking: cool for Instagram, cruel for the environment

      No longer. A forest of stacked stones destroys all sense of the wild. Stacks are an intrusion, enforcing our presence on others long after our departure. It’s an offence against the first and most important rule of wild adventuring: leave no trace.


      Some will rail against more rules, or more self-restraint; but we need both, particularly when there are more than 7 billion of us. Sheer quantities of people turn inconsequential behaviour into acts with consequences. If we want to enjoy what’s left of our wild world, we have to be more aware than ever of our impact upon this Earth.

    • Judge Orders Environmental Review of the Keystone XL Pipeline

      The controversial Keystone XL pipeline has suffered a setback. On Wednesday, August 15, a federal judge ordered the U.S. State Department to conduct a full environmental review of the pipeline before moving forward with construction, Reuters reported.

    • U.S. judge orders review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline route

      A federal judge in Montana has ordered the U.S. State Department to do a full environmental review of a revised route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, possibly delaying its construction and dealing another setback to TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO).

    • New Mexico Senators Speak Out Over Order They Say Would Hamper Nuclear Safety Board

      New Mexico’s senators are asking Congress to block a Department of Energy order that would limit a federal board’s access to information about nuclear facilities and could hinder its ability to oversee worker health and safety.

      In a letter sent Wednesday to the leaders of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall also asked their colleagues to block impending staff cuts and a broad reorganization at the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. New Mexico is home to three of the 14 nuclear facilities under the board’s jurisdiction: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

      “We feel strongly that these two matters facing the [safety board] and its future must be suspended while Congress and the public have time to review and offer constructive feedback” on how to maintain and improve the board, the senators wrote to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman and ranking member of the energy and water development subcommittee.

      Spokespeople for Alexander and Feinstein said that the senators were still reviewing the proposal. Both senators have large nuclear facilities in their states.

  • Finance
    • Think Different

      In fiscal year 2017, Apple counted $229 billion in revenue. That means it brought in more money in sales than all but nineteen countries did in tax revenues last year. While governments then pump most of their revenues back into their own militaries, welfare systems, and infrastructure, Apple pays its suppliers and its workers market rates and then counts billions leftover—$48 billion in profit last year alone. No country comes even close to running such a surplus, and no corporation’s is within $20 billion of that amount.


      As it stands now, more than 3 million people around the world who build Apple’s products work for independent contractors, often for about $2 an hour.

    • Labor Board Backs Startup Engineers Fired for Unionizing

      The NLRB issued a complaint on Tuesday against Lanetix, alleging that the company violated federal labor laws when it fired 14 engineers in January after they filed papers to unionize. The complaint also seeks an injunction to reinstate the terminated workers with back pay.

    • Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism’s Imminent Demise

      Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The main reason? We’re transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet’s environmental resources.

    • The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom’

      “There really is a race to the bottom effect going on here, because there’s so much of an oversupply of workers,” Mark Graham, a professor of internet geography at the Oxford Internet Institute, told me. Graham and his colleagues have been conducting an extensive study of the digital economy, interviewing hundreds of digital workers and analyzing data about tens of thousands of projects. They found that most buyers are located in high-income countries like the U.S., and most sellers are in countries such as India, Nigeria, and the Philippines. While digital labor markets are intended to allow sellers to auction off their work to whoever will pay the highest price for it, Graham and his Oxford colleagues Isis Hjorth and Vili Lehdonvirta found that they also help buyers find the cheapest sellers.


      At first, she charged just $5 for 100 words of script, which made her feel guilty because she knew she was drastically undercutting union rates. When she started getting good reviews, she slowly raised her rates, and eventually made $17,000 one year. But she felt guilty doing work for multinational companies that had previously hired union actors for much more money, she told me. She was stuck: If she rejoined the union, she wouldn’t get much work, because so many buyers had gone to digital work sites. [...]

    • Why startups are leaving Silicon Valley
    • Ikea to test cash-free store in Sweden

      Ikea said that its cashless test would begin in Gävle on October 1st. If all goes well, the company plans to eliminate cash payments in all of its Swedish locations.

    • Moral courage, leadership, and Brexit

      Since when is blindly following “the will of the people”, wherever it may lead, the definition of leadership?

      We are all alive today because once in 1962 someone said, ‘I’m not doing that, it’s a stupid idea’, or words to that effect.

      The speaker would have been former US president Jack Kennedy, refusing the advice of the clear majority of the ExComm – the ‘executive committee’ of high government officials and generals that he had assembled to advise him on how to respond to the discovery of inter-continental ballistic missiles in Cuba. The hawks on ExComm, who were in the clear majority, wanted Kennedy to order an immediate invasion of Cuba, something we now know would have precipitated global nuclear war. But Kennedy, who had direct experience of the chaos of battle, was unconvinced, and instead, in the face of their opposition, led a process that de-escalated the crisis.

      Moral courage is like that. It’s the uncommon capacity to take personal responsibility for hard, sometimes terrifying, decisions, through the consideration of personal beliefs and values in interaction with the historical, organisational, or social challenges with which we are confronted. It is wholly distinct from authoritarian leadership in that it is open to dialogue with other perspectives. Consequently it can sometimes be manifest in statements as simple as: ‘I was wrong’. It sometimes can be manifest in more complex or challenging statements such as ‘I believe you are wrong’, or ‘I think this is stupid’.

    • Trapped on Brexit Island

      Stuck in a political twilight zone where the laws of causality are suspended, people stagger around in a kind of waking sickness—a disease whose most worrying symptoms are the mental gymnastics which imagine Brexit as a success and Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. Do you ever think to yourself what the hell is happening? Do you see the Johnson come-what-may-Brexit on the horizon?

      By bringing disrepute into repute, making arrogance a virtue and carving up politics according to a code known only to insiders, Johnson and company aim to spark a regulatory fire sale that leads us away from a dark European bureaucracy to the sunlit uplands of a butter-side-up Britain. No matter what kind of Brit you are—from Galashiels to Gibraltar—we’re all trapped in the same bizarre mental archipelago: Brexit Island. And we need an explanation of how we arrived here.

      One overlooked factor is that many of those embroiled in the Brexit narrative boarded at elite schools. Boris Johnson, David Cameron, and Jacob Rees-Mogg went to Eton, and Daniel Hannan—described by journalist Sam Knight as “the man who brought you Brexit” (he also invented that Maoist sound-bite “Project Fear”)—boarded at Marlborough College in the Cotswolds.

      Psychotherapist Nick Duffell knows about the psychic plumbing in such minds. His work with boarding school survivors documents the damage done by separating young boys from their mothers (some as young as six) and thrusting them into a loveless world of strangers, giving the child what George Orwell, reflecting on his own boarding, called “a sense of inferiority and the dread of offending against mysterious laws.”

    • Ex-Brexit minister Steve Baker remained in charge of secretive Tory ultra faction

      Control and influence over a hard-line Brexiteer group of Conservative MPs remained in the hands of Steve Baker throughout his time as a Brexit minister, according to new documents obtained by openDemocracy. Jacob Rees-Mogg was merely the public face of the secretive group.

      Baker led the taxpayer-funded European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit MPs until being appointed a cabinet minister in 2017. But while in office he offered to address the ERG privately on government policy. These briefings were not recorded in transparency data from Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU).

      Official rules bar ministers from “being associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy.” Although the ERG has often clashed with the government over Brexit, Baker continued to “act as though he was just the lightly-detached chief executive of the ERG”, according to a senior Conservative source with knowledge of the group’s activities.

      Baker resigned his ministerial post last month at the same time as his boss at DExEU, David Davis, complaining he had been “blind-sided” by Theresa May’s ‘Chequers’ plan.

    • Brexit disaster narrative: whose interest does it serve?

      The Brexiters and the Labour leadership have clear strategies, and Theresa M\ay cannot avoid providing them the opportunity to embark upon it. Considerably less clear is an effective strategy for those politicians whose first priority is to maintain EU membership, “Remainers”. Unlike the situation for Brexiters and the Labour leadership, the May government will not provide the opportunity for a second “in or out” vote before parliament votes on the agreement.

      Inspection of the pro-EU Guardian and other sources suggests that the Remainers anticipate three contingent routes to reversing Brexit. The most frequently suggested is that the government loses the Parliamentary vote on the agreement, and a majority of MPs decide that the only way to escape from a “no-deal crash-out” is a second referendum. Second, failure of the May government to secure an agreement results in the same outcome as the first. Third, either parliamentary defeat or no agreement results in a collapse of the May government and its replacement by a pro-EU government.

    • Wanchain (WAN) Joins World’s Largest Open Source Blockchain Initiative

      The beautiful performance of cryptocurrency does not lie in pump and dump price increments, it has to do more with how it is changing the status quo.

      Talking about cryptos with exemplary acts, one needs not go far, but pick Wanchain (WAN). To show how prepared it is to capture the blockchain world completely, Wanchain has announced it joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), the world’s largest open source blockchain initiative.

    • Does Amazon Have More Power Than the Federal Reserve?

      Federal Reserve, one of the dozen reserve banks in the U.S., gathered on Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss a signature puzzle of our times: How can the economy hum along, with unemployment falling for years, without wage growth? How have the gains from the economy been segregated from most Americans who do the work, instead flowing into the hands of a small group at the top? And what can the Fed, or anyone, do to reverse this?

      The main culprit discussed at the economic policy symposium was increasing corporate concentration: the limited number of firms in any one industry. A series of working papers and speeches examined monopolization’s impact on various aspects of the economy, from worker bargaining power to capital investment to inflation. While the Fed isn’t singularly responsible for policing market competition, it does have the power of the megaphone, and the implications of the research unveiled last week should signal a sea change across government: either tame the corporate giants, or watch helplessly as they eat everything not nailed down.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • The Village Voice Is Officially Dead

      Barbey has issued a statement. “The Voice has been a key element of New York City journalism and is read around the world. As the first modern alternative newspaper, it literally defined a new genre of publishing… The Voice has connected multiple generations to local and national news, music, art, theater, film, politics and activism, and showed us that its idealism could be a way of life.”

      He also addressed the financial issues: “In recent years, the Voice has been subject to the increasingly harsh economic realties facing those creating journalism and written media. Like many others in publishing, we were continually optimistic that relief was around the next corner. Where stability for our business is, we do not know yet. The only thing that is clear now is that we have not reached that destination.”

    • Trump Whines That Google Isn’t a Safe Space

      Essentially, conservatives want to create a world where objective information and right-wing disinformation are treated equally. They’re running the same playbook on tech that they ran, for decades, on media, caterwauling about bias so that defensive editors would treat them with kid gloves. Only now, these howls about viewpoint discrimination have the force of the United States government behind them.

    • An army of bots supporting Sweden Democrats is growing explosively ahead of September’s election

      The Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI issues a warning with less than two weeks until the general election. The number of fake Twitter accounts discussing Swedish politics is soaring – and almost every other is tweeting support for the Sweden Democrats.

    • Why Trump Should Have Read “Ask ProPublica Illinois” Before He Tweeted

      We don’t think President Donald Trump reads ProPublica Illinois. But, well, maybe he should.

      On Wednesday, the president issued a pair of tweets warning about the media’s use of anonymous sources, claiming there aren’t actual people behind the information attributed to them.

    • Planning for UK Embassy to Move to Jerusalem Post Brexit

      This information about planning being carried out in great secrecy came to me from an FCO source I had no previous contact with, so I do not know the reliability. It might even be a hoax to make me look foolish. Therefore I decided to check the story with the FCO Press Department, but I can’t get any response out of them. Not answering questions appears to be the standard British state response to independent journalists now. If this is nonsense, it would have taken the FCO two minutes just to tell me so.

    • How To Wake Up

      It is a well-documented fact that it is possible for the human organism to move into a far more healthy relationship with thought than the one which most people experience. This shift has been written about for as long as there has been written language, and scientists have been confirming its existence using modern studies now. Spiritual enlightenment is real, and it is possible. It is possible for thought to take on a role as a useful tool that one can pick up and use in a wholesome way when it’s needed and put down when it isn’t, rather than being the writer, director and star of the entire show as is typical in human experience. If this is possible for the individual, it is possible for the collective.

      Our species is at an evolve-or-die crossroads. We will cease destroying our ecosystem and flirting with nuclear armageddon in the very near future, or we will go the way of the dinosaur. The reason we continue on our current trajectory is because a few sociopathic plutocrats have seized control of the dominant narratives we tell ourselves about what’s going on in the world by buying up the news media people use to keep themselves informed. The plutocrat-controlled media manipulate the ways we think and vote to ensure that we will continue supporting the ecocidal, omnicidal, Orwellian status quo upon which the oligarchs have built their empire, instead of rising up and demanding a system that prioritizes human thriving and peaceful coexistence with each other and our environment.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • What Happens When Facebook Mistakenly Blocks Local News Stories

      Facebook barred Bostick from posting two local news articles published by The Winchester Star, a daily newspaper in Virginia where she and her family live. The first, published in June, was about a school board meeting during which Francesca and her family spoke out about her case. Six weeks later, the outlet published another story, this time concerning the appointment of Winchester’s new Title IX officer, who Bostick publicly criticized. She couldn’t share either to the social network.

    • The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it.

      I found a harsh reality that I’m still trying to process: thousands of people who don’t know me, who have never interacted with me, who internalized a series of lies about me, who were never willing to give me a chance. I was harassed from the minute I made my account, and though I expected the “shut up wesley”s and “go fuck yourself”s to taper off after a day or so, it never did. And even though I never broke any rules on the server I joined (Mastodon is individual “instances” which is like a server, which connects to the “federated timeline”, which is what all the other servers are), one of its admins told me they were suspending my account, because they got 60 (!) reports overnight about my account, and they didn’t want to deal with the drama.

    • Demanding That That Creative Work Be Inoffensive

      The demand for inoffensiveness (not transgressing “woke” standards) isn’t made straight out; it’s made tacitly, by seeing that anyone who offends is pilloried online — ideally right out of a job.

    • Misuse of Blasphemy Law Again on the Rise in Pakistan

      Power state institutions have uses blasphemy charges as a tool to silence strong and powerful voices speaking out against them. In January 2016, five bloggers — Salman Haider, Waqass Goraya, Aasim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas, all famous for promoting liberal views and criticism of Pakistan’s powerful military — went missing. Soon after their abductions, a campaign started on social media alleging that the bloggers ran a blasphemous Facebook page named Bhensa. The campaign led to wide protests against the bloggers, demanding the death penalty for them. The controversial scholar and TV host Aamir Liaqat Hussain made highly charged allegations of blasphemy against the missing bloggers, putting the bloggers and their families’ lives in danger. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned his show for a month after human rights activist Jibran Nasir filed a complaint.

    • Tofurky Has a Right to Free Speech, Too

      In a brazen attempt to restrict the First Amendment rights of those concerned with the effects of their food choices, the Missouri Legislature passed a law on Tuesday that prohibits “misrepresenting” any product as “meat” if it does not come from a slaughtered animal.

      The new law now makes it a crime for plant-based and clean-meat producers to accurately inform consumers what their products are: Foods designed to fulfill the roles conventional slaughtered meat has traditionally played in a meal. For example, under the law, selling a vegan sausage would be illegal because the word “sausage” has been traditionally associated with animal meat.

    • And Here Come The Completely Ridiculous Lawsuits Over Internet Company ‘Bias’

      It was only a matter of time. Given the incorrect and misleading claims of “political bias” in social media moderation/search recently, you knew someone was going to file a lawsuit, and not surprisingly, the first to take the plunge is serial litigant Larry Klayman and his “Freedom Watch” organization. Of course, we’ve had a few similar lawsuits test the waters, all of which have failed miserably — from Dennis Prager falsely claiming that YouTube was demonetizing his videos due to his political views (which was not even close to true) to Jared Taylor suing, claiming political bias in Twitter kicking him off its platform.

      Klayman’s complaint, however, adds layers of nuttiness upon those previous attempts. First off, he’s hoping to turn it into a class action lawsuit for “all politically conservative organizations, entities and/or individuals who… have experienced illegal suppression and/or censorship.” Second, he’s filing it against four companies at once: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. Once again, I thought that conservatives believed in free markets and were against the fairness doctrine which (1) is not currently law and (2) even when it was, only applied to broadcasts over the airwaves. Yet, Klayman pretends that there’s some sort of quasi fairness doctrine, and also takes every possible rumor or claim of political bias in tech, no matter how incorrect, and assumes it’s true for the purpose of the case.

    • The Scunthorpe Problem, And Why AI Is Not A Silver Bullet For Moderating Platform Content At Scale

      Maybe someday AI will be sophisticated, nuanced, and accurate enough to help us with platform content moderation, but that day isn’t today.

      Today it prevents an awful lot of perfectly normal and presumably TOS-abiding people from even signing up for platforms.

    • Mother jailed for mosque remark

      An ethnic-Chinese woman in Indonesia whose supposed complaint about the volume of a mosque loudspeaker triggered a riot in the northern Sumatran town of Tanjung Balai in 2016 has been jailed for 18 months for blasphemy.

      The sentence was more than four times longer than the term given to rioters who destroyed Meiliana’s house and around 14 Buddhist temples in the sprawling city of Medan after the Buddhist mother of four complained to a friend about the noise and asked if she could talk to the caretakers.

    • Buddhist woman imprisoned for complaining about mosque’s speaker

      Her remark, made in 2016, is believed to have triggered the worst anti-Chinese riot in the country since 1998, with Muslims who claimed to have been offended by her words burning several Buddhist temples.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Google’s Ad Tracking Knows Every Mastercard Purchase You Make, Online or Off

      Google tracks Mastercard purchases to see if online advertisements prompt real-world sales. The deal is worth millions of dollars, with Mastercard basically selling customer data to Google.

    • Google and Mastercard Cut a Secret Ad Deal to Track Retail Sales

      For the past year, select Google advertisers have had access to a potent new tool to track whether the ads they ran online led to a sale at a physical store in the U.S. That insight came thanks in part to a stockpile of Mastercard transactions that Google paid for.

      But most of the two billion Mastercard holders aren’t aware of this behind-the-scenes tracking. That’s because the companies never told the public about the arrangement.

      Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Mastercard Inc. brokered a business partnership during about four years of negotiations, according to four people with knowledge of the deal, three of whom worked on it directly. The alliance gave Google an unprecedented asset for measuring retail spending, part of the search giant’s strategy to fortify its primary business against onslaughts from Inc. and others.

    • Google Bought Mastercard Data To Track Your Offline Purchases For Ad-Targeting

      Google has reportedly struck a secret deal with Mastership to track offline shopping details of credit card users. Apparently, it paid millions of dollars to Mastercard to access nearly two billion cardholders’ data.

      According to Bloomberg, this deal was finally brokered between the two companies after four years of negotiation. Neither Google nor Mastercard has made this announcement public.

    • Verizon’s Oath Will Still Scan Your E-mail For Advertising Purposes Because Hey, It’s Verizon

      After backlash, Google ended its own practice of auto-monetizing e-mail content for behavioral ads last year, acknowledging that the practice doesn’t exactly instill trust in your customers (e-mails are still automatically scanned as part of the company’s “Smart Compose” feature, but content is no longer monetized). Apple has never scanned subscriber e-mails for this purpose, and Microsoft told Techcrunch this week that the company does “not use email content for ad targeting in any way, anywhere in Microsoft.” The shift has been part of an effort to compete on privacy, which is an idea that should be encouraged.

      Coming from the telecom sector, Verizon’s not quite as familiar with this whole competition thing.


      Of course, anybody surprised that Verizon would take the low road shouldn’t be. After all, this is the same company that was caught a few years ago covertly modifying user wireless packets so it could track users around the internet without telling them. It took two years for security researchers to even notice it, and months more before Verizon could be bothered to offer a working opt out tool. And while the company was ultimately fined by the FCC for the practice, a bigger variant of that technology has long-since been implemented across Verizon’s entire Oath (the combination of Yahoo and AOL) ad network.

      Of course we haven’t even gotten to Verizon’s ultra-cozy relationship with the nation’s intelligence apparatus yet, or the fact that giant ISPs routinely engage in pretty sleazy behavior to undermine pretty much any effort to shore up the nation’s privacy standards, regardless of the quality of the effort. All while hoovering up and monetizing private user browsing and location data on a scale that pretty routinely makes the Facebook, Cambridge scandal look like child’s play.

    • Officers Lose Their Evidence After Turning A Medical Emergency Call Into A Warrantless Search Party

      This case, coming to us via Andrew Fleischman, would be Keystone-Cops-comical if it weren’t such a hideous example of law enforcement using someone’s rights as a doormat. What began as a 911 call for assistance with an unresponsive infant soon devolved into a full-blown search of house by several officers without a single warrant between them.

      Arielle Turner was indicted by a grand jury for the death of her infant. That’s gone now, thanks to the careless, self-destructive actions of the officers at the scene. All evidence obtained during the unlawful search has been suppressed, with this Georgia Supreme Court ruling [PDF] upholding the lower court’s decision.

      Arielle and her mother, Terry Turner, called 911 to report her 10-week-old baby was unresponsive. EMTs arrived and began treating Turner’s daughter before taking her (and Arielle) to the hospital. The child’s grandmother remained at home.

      The first officer to arrive was Joseph Wells who comforted Terry Turner while standing on the porch. Terry invited Officer Wells to come in and sit down because her legs were starting to hurt. They sat and conversed. Detective Victoria Bender arrived shortly thereafter, letting herself in through the open front door. Neither of these two officers performed any searches or seized any property.

      Over at the hospital, an examination did not turn up any signs of abuse or foul play. Investigators believed the infant’s death to be accidental. This information was relayed to Detective Bender, who passed it on to Terry Turner. Either something got lost in translation or the officers already on the scene decided to make a command decision. Suddenly, the home they were already in was declared a crime scene, despite there being no evidence of foul play.

    • EFF To Maine, Massachusetts Courts: Rule Requiring Warrants to Access Cell Phone Location Data Applies to Real-Time Searches
    • Log Into Windows 10 Using Your Google Account #comingsoon

      Looks like the idea here is to register Chrome as a Credential Manager for Windows 10 and make it available for users to manager their passwords. However, there is another possibility.

      According to my friend Alan, if a Credential Provider is linked for interactive or network logon, you can use that account to log into your Windows 10 computer. That means, this feature opens up the possibility of using a Google account to log into Windows 10 computers

    • Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption

      Should governments continue to encounter impediments to lawful access to information necessary to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries, we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.

    • Hacking [sic] a Prince, an Emir and a Journalist to Impress a Client

      As private companies develop and sell cutting-edge surveillance technology to governments for tens of millions of dollars, human rights groups say the scant oversight over the practice invites rampant misuse. And no company is more central to the battle than the NSO Group, one of the best-known creators of spyware that invades smartphones.

    • How Israel Spies on US Citizens

      A never-shown Al Jazeera documentary on the pro-Israel lobby in the United States reveals possibly illegal Israeli spying on American citizens, and the lobby’s fear of a changing political mood.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Activists protest software company’s ICE contract at Burning Man

      Activists are protesting software company Palantir’s contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at Burning Man

      Mijente, an advocacy group for Latinx and Chicanx organizing, brought a giant cage on wheels to the festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, with the intent to bring the contract to the attention of tech workers in attendance.

    • Dread of Heinleinism

      But here’s the thing: as often as not, when you pick up a Heinlein tribute novel by a male boomer author, you’re getting a classic example of the second artist effect.

      Heinlein, when he wasn’t cranking out 50K word short tie-in novels for the Boy Scouts of America, was actually trying to write about topics for which he (as a straight white male Californian who grew up from 1907-1930) had no developed vocabulary because such things simply weren’t talked about in Polite Society. Unlike most of his peers, he at least tried to look outside the box he grew up in. (A naturist and member of the Free Love movement in the 1920s, he hung out with Thelemites back when they were beyond the pale, and was considered too politically subversive to be called up for active duty in the US Navy during WW2.) But when he tried to look too far outside his zone of enculturation, Heinlein often got things horribly wrong. Writing before second-wave feminism (never mind third- or fourth-), he ended up producing Podkayne of Mars. Trying to examine the systemic racism of mid-20th century US society without being plugged into the internal dialog of the civil rights movement resulted in the execrable Farnham’s Freehold. But at least he was trying to engage, unlike many of his contemporaries (the cohort of authors fostered by John W. Campbell, SF editor extraordinaire and all-around horrible bigot). And sometimes he nailed his targets: “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” as an attack on colonialism, for example (alas, it has mostly been claimed by the libertarian right), “Starship Troopers” with its slyly embedded messages that racial integration is the future and women are allowed to be starship captains (think how subversive this was in the mid-to-late 1950s when he was writing it).

      In contrast, Heinlein’s boomer fans rarely seemed to notice that Heinlein was all about the inadmissible thought experiment, so their homages frequently came out as flat whitebread 1950s adventure yarns with blunt edges and not even the remotest whiff of edgy introspection, of consideration of the possibility that in the future things might be different (even if Heinlein’s version of diversity ultimately faltered and fell short).

    • ‘We can’t let the Islamists win’

      Qanta Ahmed: The hysteria of this case is based on the idea that the remarks were an attack on a religion – and that’s not true. I’m opposed to the burqa because it represents the influence of Islamism, not Islam. Islamists want to make this marginal practice the main face of British Islam. In fact, there are millions of women who dress like me, without covering their hair or face. My mother dresses like Queen Elizabeth in her silk scarf. Queen Rania of Jordan dresses like Angelina Jolie – that’s completely normal for a Muslim woman. Islam is ethnically and ritualistically diverse, there are 1.6 billion of us. There’s no one unifying way of appearing Muslim. Islamists are trying to claim that the niqab is a religiously sanctioned form of dress, that a woman cannot be a Muslim without it. Is every woman in a niqab an Islamist? Probably not. But it shows how influential Islamist thinking is if people want to adopt this style of dress.

    • ‘I met my IS captor on a German street’

      “I left my family and my country and went to Germany to forget the beating and the pain. The last thing I expected was to meet my IS captor and that he would know everything about me.”


      By the time they contacted her again in June this year as part of the investigation, Ashwaq had already left for Iraq.

      However, activists in Germany say her case may not be an isolated incident.

    • Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship for refusing handshake

      But “religious practice does not fall outside the law,” he stressed.


      “The constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry,” he said.

    • Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship over handshake refusal

      “The constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry,” he said.

    • US-Turkey row: Pastor a ‘pawn in personal feud’

      The US is increasing pressure on Turkey to try to secure the freedom of American pastor Andrew Brunson. While the leaders of the two Nato allies clash with each other, Mr Brunson’s fate hangs in the balance.

    • Saudi Arabia seeking first death penalty for female activist, rights groups say

      Prosecutors in Saudi Arabia are seeking the death penalty for five activists in the country’s Eastern Province, according to Saudi activists and Human Rights Watch. Among those being targeted is Israa al-Ghomgham, who Saudi groups say would be the first female human rights activist to be put to death in the Saudi kingdom if the execution proceeds.

    • US-backed Saudi regime set to behead female activist and four others

      Democratic and Republican administrations alike have for more than seven decades supported the Saudi monarchy, one of the most reactionary regimes in the world, as a linchpin of US policy in the Middle East, arming it to the teeth. This support has only intensified as the Trump administration has ratcheted up US aggression against Iran, seeking to cobble together an anti-Iranian coalition including both Saudi Arabia and Israel for the purpose of rolling back Iranian influence in the region and asserting US hegemony.

    • Little to No Pay for Prisoners in the U.S.

      One of the biggest demands for the strikers is an immediate end to compulsory and imposed labor for little to no pay. Able bodied imprisoned people are put to work in correctional facilities doing cooking, cleaning, and grounds keeping along with possible labor outside of prisons, which is often dangerous, like in the case of prisoners fighting wildfires in California. Currently around 800,000 prisoners work daily for meager wages that are often docked for court-assessed fines, family support, and discharge money. States like Arkansas, Georgia, and Texas offer no compensation for work performed while in prison. Even for the highest paying states, the low end of compensation only outperforms states like Texas by around two quarters and a dime.

    • Christian sanitary workers protest against non-attendance of Muslim workers

      Nasir Mahtab, another sanitary worker, complained that the Muslim sanitary workers regularly took their salaries without doing any work. He alleged that the former Member Provincial Assembly, Karam Daad, hired these Muslim sanitary workers for political gain and the matter was not resolved in the last five years by the district administration. Rehmat Charagh, another worker, said that there were 40 ghost Muslim workers who never came to the work.

      The protestors demanded that all the ghost workers must be immediately called to work or they should be fired from the jobs and other sanitary workers should be hired to eliminate the shortage of sanitary workers in the city. They said that they already wrote to the district administration but no action was taken.

    • ‘I’m For Disruption’: Interview With Prison Strike Organizer From Jailhouse Lawyers Speak

      I recently interviewed another representative from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak to get their thoughts on the last several months of planning on the inside and solidarity organizing on the outside. I asked about the process of organizing prisoners as a class, prison slavery, their solidarity with ICE detainees, diversifying tactics, and what people on the outside can do to support the strike.

    • Why Prisoners Are Going On Strike Today

      But JLS says the strike will go on. “Fundamentally, it’s a human rights issue. Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. We know that our conditions are causing physical harm and deaths that could be avoided if prison policy makers actually gave a damn,” the statement said. “Prisons in America are a war zone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?”

    • Sweden Muslim woman who refused handshake at job interview wins case
    • Guests with ‘misogynistic, homophobic, racist’ views cost Canadian mosque its charitable status

      The Ottawa Islamic Centre and Assalam Mosque, which is one of the biggest mosques in the Canadian capital, had its charitable status revoked in July, after officials from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) expressed concerns in a report over dodgy financing and a roster of guest speakers who seemed to “promote hate and intolerance.”

      “Many of the views expressed by the organization’s speakers are misogynistic, homophobic, racist and/or promote violence,” the CRA Charities Branch wrote in a letter sent to the mosque president and obtained by the Global Times.

    • Qatar: France’s Generous Financer of Mosques

      Money from Qatar finances many of the “mega-mosques” in France. These are large structures with minarets — not the improvised mosques that have sprung up in garages, storefronts and cultural centers. The Great Mosque of Poitiers, for instance, sits in the vicinity of the site of the Battle of Tours (also known as the Battle of Poitiers), where Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, stopped the advancing Muslim army of Abdul al-Rahman in the year 732.

    • Islamic scholar calls for end to ‘Muslim social self-exclusion’

      Mr Mustafa as targeted by Muslims in Glasgow and had to seek police protection after he spoke out about the more restrictive practices of Islam being propagated by Mosques.

      In response, he says that 15 imams issued the fatwa – or ruling – calling for other Muslims to take action against him.

      He has since been threatened with beheading by extremists after he claimed fasting between dawn and sunset during the month of Ramadan is not a requirement in the Quran, and has sought the protection of the police.

    • Welcome to Traveling While Black

      I’ve been traveling since I was a baby, and I’ve gotten used to the ways in which my body is surveilled both in and out of the airport. I’ve had a near run-in with neo-Nazis in Russia, landed in a taxi situation where I thought I could’ve been assaulted in the Bahamas, and had employees refuse to acknowledge me in domestic places like Florida. The constant awareness of what kind of treatment I’ll get for being born Black and assigned female is often more exhausting than the time it takes to get to and from my destination.

    • TSA + CBP test new facial recognition tech & computed tomography scanners at LAX

      The experiment will take place for 30 days at the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal. Under the plan, travelers who transit this terminal are to be photographed as part of a pilot program the government says will help it keep tabs on foreign nationals exiting the United States for overseas destinations.

    • Australian Arrested at Cambodian Rally Convicted of Spying
    • In Defense of Affirmative Action in Higher Education

      The mere consideration of race in admissions, as the Supreme Court has long-held, does not violate college applicants’ equal rights.

      In November 2014, Students for Fair Admissions, an organization founded and led by Edward Blum as part of his ongoing opposition to civil rights and racial equality, sued Harvard University for racial discrimination in the admissions process.

      According to the plaintiff, Harvard discriminates against Asian-Americans and engages in “racial balancing” that unfairly restricts the number of Asian-Americans admitted to the school. Yet the remedy that plaintiff seeks — prohibiting Harvard from being “aware of or learn[ing] the race or ethnicity of any applicant” — is untethered to its allegations. Even if SFFA prevailed on all of their remaining claims, it doesn’t follow that the proper remedy would be to prohibit Harvard from considering race as one of many factors in the admissions process.

      On Thursday, the ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief with a federal court in Boston in defense of affirmative action in higher education. Whether or not Harvard discriminated against Asian-American applicants in its admissions process will ultimately be decided by the courts, but the remedy that the plaintiff seeks is extreme and unconstitutional for three primary reasons.

      First, the Supreme Court has already stated that race can be considered as one factor in a holistic admissions process. In its 2016 decision in Fisher v. University of Texas, the court reaffirmed that universities can take race into account to ensure a diverse student body as long as that practice is narrowly tailored to avoid violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. In fact, based on the 2016 Fisher decision, the court in this case already dismissed SFFA’s contention that Harvard’s bare consideration of race violates Equal Protection.

    • Nasrin Sotoudeh faces charges such as espionage as Tehran continues to stifle dissent

      The European Union has expressed serious concerns about the continuing detention of Nasrin Sotoudeh, the prominent Iranian human rights lawyer who is serving a five-year jail sentence.


      Sotoudeh, 55, is facing a torrent of charges, including espionage, after arguing a string of cases involving women arrested for defying hijab rules by taking off their headscarves in public and waving them on a stick.

    • America’s Gulf Allies Are Making the World a More Dangerous Place

      Though August is supposed to be slow for news, the young month has already seen two extraordinary events. Both have largely flown under the radar, but each has important implications for United States national security—and together they expose a deep flaw in US foreign-policy strategy: a reliance on repressive and autocratic Persian Gulf states in the name of fighting terrorism.

    • Court Says Cop Gets No Immunity For Pulling A Man Over For Flipping Him Off

      The plaintiff, Brian Clark, maintained he didn’t flip off the officer, so that eliminates his First Amendment claim. If Clark did not engage in one-fingered expressive conduct (as he denies doing), there’s no First Amendment activity prompting retaliation. However, the Fourth Amendment remains alive, if currently covered by the clumsy, authoritarian footprints of Lt. Coleman, who is now completely stripped of his immunity shield.

      Cops see a lot of animosity from citizens. But it’s just part of the job. It may be unpleasant but it’s not an arrestable offense, much less reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop. With rare exceptions, courts have sided with citizens and their expressive conduct.


      If a citizen lets the bird fly, officers should either let it ride or immediately seek legal representation. The courts say expressions of displeasure towards our government are the reason the First Amendment exists. Any cop who thinks an obscene gesture justifies a traffic stop is in the wrong business. Or the wrong country.

    • Federal Judge Upholds Right To Flip Off Virginia Cops

      Brian H. Clark, the irreverent passenger, has a history of annoying authority. In 2016, Judge Martin F. Clark Jr (no relation) banned Brian Clark from entering the county courthouse clerk’s office without a lawyer. The judge complained that Clark annoyed his staff with “numerous emails, letters and filings,” and the state Supreme Court upheld the order.

      Since he could not go inside, Clark waited outside the courthouse on July 25, 2016 while two friends filed court papers on his behalf. While inside, one of those friend, Wendy Inzerillo, overhead the sheriff’s deputies saying “Brian doesn’t know what we have in store for him” and that he “couldn’t wait to see his face when we take him down.”

    • John Powers on Voting Rights, Karen Dolan on School Safety

      Corporate media cover electoral politics—a lot. Yet the questions that guide that coverage don’t seem to change much: Who’s leading in polls (before anyone’s learned much about the candidates’ ideas), who said what awful thing about their opponent, who’s raised more money from rich people? That’s not the same as covering the electoral process: Do elections represent the public will? Does everyone who wants to vote get to? How can we ensure that our voting process reflects the principles of democracy that are so insistently invoked? There are few questions more critical right now. We’ll talk about them with John Powers, counsel in the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

    • A Click on a URL Isn’t Enough for a Search Warrant

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked an appeals court to ensure that a click on a URL isn’t enough to get a search warrant for your house.

      In U.S. v. Nikolai Bosyk, law enforcement discovered a link to a file-sharing service that was suspected of being used to share child pornography. Prosecutors got a warrant to search Bosyk’s home based only on the fact that someone attempted to access the link from his home. The warrant application included no information on why or how the user encountered the link, or if he had any knowledge of what it linked to.

      In an amicus brief filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, EFF argues that law enforcement should gather more evidence before subjecting someone to an invasive home search. It’s not always clear what kinds of sites URLs link to, particularly with the prevalence of link shorteners or other tools that obscure a link’s destination.

    • From Venezuela to McCain, Media and Human Rights Industry on Same Page

      The UN’s International Organization for Migration estimates that, by July of 2018, 2.3 million Venezuelans were living abroad (which includes hundreds of thousands who have spent decades abroad). Why does the Economist say it “may already” be 4 million? A good guess is that they are relying on the estimates of Tomas Paez, a vehemently anti-government Venezuelan academic who has long been a favorite source for corporate journalists (, 2/18/18). Paez has estimated that 1.6 million people left Venezuela from 1999–2015, about five times more than UN Population Division estimates for that period.

      No doubt as Venezuela’s economy entered what could fairly be called a “collapse” starting in 2015, migration began to skyrocket, and it is indeed likely to get worse, thanks to illegal economic sanctions that Trump enacted in August 2017.

      What about the Economist‘s Syria comparison? First of all, Syria’s civil war has not just created a massive “outflow” of refugees. It also created an enormous population of internally displaced people, as wars typically do. As of 2017, Syria had 6 million people forcibly displaced within its borders. Another 5 million refugees were still living in three bordering countries (Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey). That brings the total of those forcibly displaced by Syria’s civil war to nearly 11 million—almost seven times larger than the most credible estimate of the numbers displaced (so far) by Venezuela’s economic crisis.

      Syria had a population of about 21 million in 2011 when the civil war began. It has now been estimated to be about 18 million. So more than half of Syria’s 2011 population are now refugees, either internally or externally—a far cry from the 13 percent of the Venezuelan population claimed by Paez (and hinted at by the Economist), or the 5 percent (1.6 million) estimated by the UN’s International Organization for Migration to have left since 2015.


      Guevara-Rosas also tweeted out an article praising John McCain. McCain’s death has been a real “teachable moment,” showing how tiny the ideological differences are between corporate media and the human rights industry. Four different Human Rights Watch (HRW) officials used their Twitter accounts to spread praise for McCain. In 2011, McCain tried to have Venezuela placed on the US “sponsors of terrorism” list—not scary at all, coming from a man who joked about bombing Iran. McCain dutifully echoed the Venezuelan opposition’s line (also the Western media line, and HRW’s line) that the country is a “dictatorship.”

      Ken Roth (HRW’s executive director) said McCain “will be remembered for his firm, principled opposition to torture, especially by Bush, a member of his own party.” Jose Miguel Vivanco said McCain was “a giant in North America politics and an ally in the defense of human rights.” Sarah Margon, HRW’s Washington director, said that McCain’s death ”feels exceptionally tough for those of us who have fought for human decency and basic rights alongside and with him.” Dinah PoKempner, HRW’s general counsel, spread an article that called McCain a “war hero.”

    • Police Union Offers Citizens $500 To Get Hurt, Killed, Or Sued As Amateur Cops

      Police unions have never been the sharpest tool in the law enforcement PR shed. Over the years, they’ve claimed officers should be subjected to less scrutiny than Walmart employees, flashbang-burned toddlers are the price society pays for “safe” neighborhoods, and anything remotely suggesting greater accountability or transparency will probably result in dead cops.

      Hey, I get it. Zealous advocacy and all that. Unions need to show the rank-and-file their dues are being put to use. And it’s the best use possible: self-preservation and consistent maintenance of the status quo. Unions will always strongly advocate for their officers, even when advocating positions officers don’t agree with. To sum up: ridiculous. And here we are with yet another ridiculous police union action.

      Recently, a video went viral showing an officer begging for help from a security guard while a number of people stood around filming his losing battle with an arrestee. Maybe the problem was callous citizens and their anti-cop attitudes. Maybe the problem is the reduction of real life to social media filler. Or maybe it was just the bystander effect: the more bystanders there are, the more everyone assumes someone else will step up and help out.

    • Police union offers $500 reward for people who take down suspects

      A police union wants to turn random bystanders into vigilantes-for-hire — by offering $500 to any civilian who helps cops wrestle down suspects who are resisting arrest.

      The cash proposal from the Sergeants Benevolent Association is aimed at getting those who normally would make videos of cops taking people into custody to put down their phones and actually get involved.

      “When you see an officer struggling, rather than take your cellphone out, assist the officer and you’ll receive an award of $500,” SBA president Ed Mullins told The Post.

      “Far too often, we see police officers engaged in violent struggles with perpetrators while members of the public stand by and take videos of the incident. This has got to stop, and hopefully this program will incentivize good Samaritans to do the right thing.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • California State Assembly Passes Nation’s Toughest Net Neutrality Law

      The legislation, which passed in a 59-18 vote, will now go to the Senate, where a vote is expected next week. It would then go to Governor Jerry Brown.


      The bill prohibits internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling speedier access to consumers. But the legislation also goes further than the FCC’s old rules, as it prohibits internet providers from charging access fees to websites to connect to their customers, and it bans certain types of “zero rating” offerings. The latter are practices in which companies like AT&T and Verizon offer plans that do not count affiliated content against data caps.

    • California tweaks President Trump’s nose with ‘strongest net neutrality bill’ in the US

      The bill will make it illegal for internet service providers or mobile operators in California to block or throttle internet traffic, or from selling speedier access to particular websites.

      It includes a ban on the practice of selling tariffs with access to particular websites that don’t count towards data caps. So-called ‘zero rating’ is most common among mobile providers.

    • California passes strongest net neutrality law in the country

      The bill was cleared with a final vote in the state Senate today, being approved 23-11. It passed in the State Assembly yesterday, after initially being approved in the Senate back in May. But the bill had changed in the ensuing months, so it needed to return to its chamber of origin today for final approval. The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the final legislation “a gold standard net neutrality bill.”

    • You Did It: California Net Neutrality Passes State Assembly

      After a long and hard-fought battle, one where you made your voices heard, California’s Assembly passed S.B. 822, the net neutrality bill. But we’re not quite done yet.

      In a bipartisan vote of 61-18, S.B. 822 passed the Assembly. Now it needs to pass the Senate again.

      ISPs have tried hard to gut and kill this bill, pouring money and robocalls into California. There was a moment where that campaign looked like it might have been successful, but you spoke out and got strong net neutrality protections restored. But that hiccup means that, although a version of the bill already passed in the California Senate, it’s now different enough from that initial version to have to be re-voted on.

    • What Does The Decentralized Web Need?

      In, among others, It Isn’t About The Technology, Decentralized Web Summit2018: Quick Takes and Special Report on Decentralizing the Internet I’ve been skeptical at considerable length about the prospect of a decentralized Web. I would really like the decentralized Web to succeed, so I admit I’m biased, just pessimistic.


      I was asked to summarize what would be needed for success apart from working technology (which we pretty much have)? My answer was four things:

    • Court Rules It’s Fine If FCC Wants To Deem Just One Available ISP As ‘Competition’

      So we’ve long discussed how the FCC (often under both parties) has a long and troubled history of ignoring the obvious competition problems in the United States broadband market. From the FCC’s $300 million broadband map that avoids mentioning prices and hallucinates competition and speeds, to the agency’s long-standing (and absurd) belief that just one connection in a census tract means the entire area is “served,” the government has gone to great lengths to help deep-pocketed telecom campaign contributors mask the width and depth of a problem that’s painfully obvious to U.S. consumers.

      Under the Ajit Pai FCC, this rose-colored glasses approach to data has only, unsurprisingly, intensified. The Pai FCC has been engaged in all manner of efforts to lower the definition of broadband in order to make it appear that residential broadband is more uniformly deployed than in actually is. That effort has been equally present in the even less competitive broadband business and special access market, where just a few ISPs hold regional monopolies over the high-speed lines connecting everything from cellular towers to your local ATM.

      When Ajit Pai came to power at the FCC, he immediately got to work scrapping previous FCC efforts to make this market more competitive. That included modifying the very definition of “competition.” Under the revised Pai FCC language, countless markets were suddenly deemed “competitive” if businesses had access to just one broadband provider. In response, impacted competitors and consumer groups filed an amicus curiae brief (pdf) urging the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to vacate the FCC’s rule changes.

    • Victory! California Passes Net Neutrality Bill

      California’s net neutrality bill, S.B. 822 has received a majority of votes in the Senate and is heading to the governor’s desk. In this fight, ISPs with millions of dollars to spend lost to the voice of the majority of Americans who support net neutrality. This is a victory that can be replicated.

      ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast hated this bill. S.B. 822 bans blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, classic ways that companies have violated net neutrality principles. It also incorporates much of what the FCC learned and incorporated into the 2015 Open Internet Order, preventing new assaults on the free and open Internet. This includes making sure companies can’t circumvent net neutrality at the point of interconnection within the state of California. It also prevents companies from using zero rating—the practice of not counting certain apps or services against a data limit—in a discriminatory way. That is to say that, say, there could be a plan where all media streaming services were zero-rated, but not one where just one was. One that had either paid for the privilege or one owned by the service provider. In that respect, it’s a practice much like discriminatory paid prioritization, where ISPs create fast lanes for those who can pay or for other companies they own.

      ISPs and their surrogates waged a war of misinformation on this bill. They argued that net neutrality made it impossible to invest in expanding and upgrading their service, even though they make plenty of money. Lobbying groups sent out robocalls that didn’t mention net neutrality—which remains overwhelmingly popular—merely mentioned the bill’s number and claimed, with no evidence, that it would force ISPs to raise their prices by $30. And they argued against the zero-rating provision when we know those practices disproportionately affect lower-income consumers [pdf].

      There was a brief moment in this fight when it looked like the ISPs had won. Amendments offered in the Assembly Committee on Communication and Conveyance after the bill had passed the California Senate mostly intact gutted the bill. But you made your voices heard again and again until the bill’s strength was restored and we turned opponents into supporters in the legislature.

  • DRM
    • Two Point Hospital’s Denuvo DRM Protection Cracked the Day Before Launch

      Denuvo, by its own admission, has never been more powerful than it is right now. It has access to near unlimited resources thanks to its acquisition by cybersecurity specialist Irdeto. Not even Denuvo could protect the Two Point Hospital development team against a major cock-up though.

      Two Point Hospital successfully had its Denuvo Anti-Tamper DRM protection circumvented a day before the game released. The blame for this is two-pronged.

      First of all, Two Point Hospital was released on both Windows and Linux via Steam on launch day. To put it simply, Denuvo doesn’t run on Linux, so rejigging the Linux executable was the first port of call for hackers, and helped save plenty of time.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • NAFTA Patents

      It will be interesting to see the extent that patents become an element in the negotiations. USTR is particularly calling on Mexico and Canada to pay more for prescription drugs.

    • Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharma USA, Inc.

      In Helsinn, the Supreme Court will focus on the new definitions of prior art found in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA). The language and history of Section 102(a)(1) suggest that the provision is limited only to prior art that is “available to the public.” However, pre-AIA precedent held that secret sales activity and commercial uses by the patentee could negate patentability. And nothing in the AIA directly addresses that old precedent.

    • US, Canada fall short of NAFTA deal, will resume talks next week

      The U.S. and Canada failed on Friday to reach a final deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite long discussions this week.The two nations plan to take up where they left off on Wednesday.

    • Undisclosed Conflict of Interest Causes Unenforceable Arbitration Clause, Disgorgement of Some Fees

      Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP v. J-M Mfg. Co. __ P.3d __ (Cal. Aug. 30, 2018) has been on a lot of people’s radar for while. Boiled down, the firm represented a J-M Mfg., in a qui tam action against a number of public entities while representing one of the public entities in an unrelated and small matter. The firm billed 10,000 hours in the qui tam action and 12 to the public entity, South Tahoe.

      South Tahoe moved to disqualify the firm, and that motion was granted over the firm’s argument that South Tahoe had agreed to a broad waiver of conflicts long before the matter for J-M had even existed.

      Later, J-M refused to pay the final $1 million of the $3 million the firm had billed it. The firm sought arbitration in accordance with its fee agreement with J-M, which also contained a broad waiver clause. In response, opposed arbitration and J-M sought disgorgement of the $2 million it had paid, since the firm had earned it while having a conflict of interest.

    • In re Maatita: Has the Court Radically Redesigned Design Patent Coverage?

      A U.S. design patent can only claim one design. Multiple embodiments of the same design may be claimed “only if they involve a single inventive concept according to the nonstatutory double patenting practice for designs.” MPEP § 1504.05.


      To support its conclusion, the court conflated configuration and surface-ornamentation designs. According to the court, if a design for the surface ornamentation of a rug can be illustrated using a single “two-dimensional, plan- or planar-view,” there was no reason why a configuration design of indeterminate depth could not be so claimed, as long as it was clear what angle the ordinary viewer should view the design from. But surface-ornamentation and configuration are completely different types of designs. They should not be treated the same in all instances. The fact that an ordinary observer would view the surface-ornamentation design for a rug to be “the same” design (which is, after all, the test for infringement) whether it was used in a high-pile or low-pile rug does not mean that an ordinary observer would think that all of the shoe-sole designs claimed by Maatita were, in fact, “the same” design. Consider the examiner’s examples shown above. If a design patent claimed one of those, it wouldn’t be infringed by the others. If they’re not considered “the same” design for the purposes of infringement, they should not be considered “the same” design for the purposes of § 171.

      If Maatita is read as holding that a 3D design of indeterminate depth is, in fact, a single “design” under § 171, then the Federal Circuit has radically redefined the concept of a patentable “design” to a degree not seen since In re Zahn (I discuss that decision in Section III(A)(2) here). In Zahn, the CCPA said it was okay to claim a “design” for the configuration of just a portion of an article of manufacture. Post-Zahn, applicants could craft claims that would be infringed even if the overall shape of the article differed, as long as the claimed portion looked the same.

    • More on Maatita

      Design patentees have finally caught a break. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in in re Maatita (No. 2017-2037, August 20, 2018) held that a single plan view of the bottom of a shoe satisfies the enablement and definiteness requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112. This was the finding despite the fact – clearly recognized by the court – that the three-dimensional nature of the actual shoe bottom could not be determined from the sole drawing, i.e., many different 3D possibilities were covered by the design claim.


      The only portions of the design that are claimed are in solid lines in the middle of the forefoot, highlighted here for convenience. The rest of the design is in broken lines, i.e., unclaimed.

    • Maggie Chon on IP and Critical Theories

      I tend to approach IP law primarily through a law-and-economics lens, but I enjoy learning about how scholars with different methodological toolkits tackle the same subject matter—especially when their work is clear and accessible. I was thus delighted to see a draft chapter by Margaret Chon, IP and Critical Methods, for the forthcoming Handbook on Intellectual Property Research (edited by Irene Calboli and Lillà Montagnani). Chon provides a concise review of critical legal theory and its application to IP law.

      According to Chon, critical theory includes a critique of liberal legal theory as based on the fallacy that legal institutions fairly reflect constituents’ interests (as reflected in the marketplace or ballot box). Instead, the interests of privileged or empowered social groups are over-represented, and institutions contribute to these inequalities to the extent that enduring change requires reimagining these institutions themselves. Of course, as she notes, “critical theory would not exist without some belief (however thin) that law and legal systems contain some of the tools necessary for structural transformation.”

      Chon argues that one need not be a self-identified Crit to engage in critical methodology, and that many IP scholars have stepped closer to critical method by moving from doctrinal to structural analysis, and by “perform[ing] this structural analysis with attention to power disparities.” And she gives a number of examples of the influence of critical theory across different areas of IP.

    • Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc. (D. Del. 2018)

      Earlier this week, Judge Richard G. Andrews, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Delaware decided a veritable plethora of post-trial motions (by both parties) in Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc. (he denied them all). These included Hospira’s Rule 50(a) Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law on the Issues of Safe Harbor, Noninfringement, Invalidity, and Damages and related briefing, Hospira’s Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law Under Rule 50(b) and, in the Alternative, For Remittitur or New Trial Under Rule 59 and related briefing, Hospira’s Motion to Seal Confidential Exhibits Admitted at Trial and related briefing, Amgen’s Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law of Infringement of the ’349 Patent or, in the Alternative, for a New Trial and related briefing, and Amgen’s Motion for Prejudgment and Post-judgment Interest and related briefing. Of note is the basis for the Court’s denial of Hospira’s safe harbor motion under the provisions of the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA).

    • New Paper Looks At Differential Protection For Traditional Knowledge, Folklore

      The protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (folklore) has been escaping consensus at the World Intellectual Property Organization for many years. One of the reasons for this lack of agreement is the particular nature of traditional knowledge and folklore. Some years ago, a new concept, calling for a different protection according to the degree of diffusion of this knowledge, gained support. A new paper looks into the benefits of this approach and its implementation in local contexts.

      The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) based in Canada recently issued a paper [pdf] on the tiered or differentiated approach to traditional knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). It is authored by Chidi Oguamanam, CIGI senior fellow and expert in global intellectual property law and policy frameworks, and representing Nigeria at the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC).

    • Trademarks
      • Trademark filings on the rise since new law

        One year ago, government held a ceremonial conference to commemorate the Department of Tourism and Cayman Airways filing to protect the Sir Turtle logo, becoming the first entities to brand under the new Trade Marks Law.

        Since then, 620 other applications have been filed at the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office, nearly double the roughly 300 trademarks filed per year before that.

      • Monster Energy Loses Trademark Opposition With Monsta Pizza In The UK

        For readers of this site, we writers would simply need to utter the name “Monster Energy” to get their eyes rolling. The makers of energy beverages have been notorious in their trademark bullying habits and have built a reputation for being both blowhards and litigious. If one actually reviews our stories about the company, however, these bullying attempts just as often lead to pushback and losses for Monster Energy. And now it seems we have another such instance on our hands.

        A little over a year ago, a pizza joint in the UK applied to register its business name, Monsta Pizza, as a trademark. Monster Energy, which again I will point out makes drinks and not pizza, immediately opposed the registration, citing its own trademarks and claiming that the public would somehow be confused. A year and lots of legal fees later, the trademark office has finally ruled that Monster Energy’s opposition is denied and Monsta Pizza’s mark will be granted. The pizza company will not need to change any of its branding moving forward. Monster Energy has also been ordered to pay some of Monsta Pizza’s legal fees.

    • Copyrights
      • Disney Fixes Its Sketchy DVD Rental License, Wins Injunction Against Redbox Over Digital Downloads

        Earlier this year we wrote about Disney’s silly lawsuit against Redbox. If you don’t recall, Redbox, whose main business was renting DVDs out of kiosks started also offering digital download codes that could be purchased at their kiosks. What Redbox did, was it would buy Disney “combo packs” (that came with both a DVD and a download code) and would offer up just the slip of paper with the code out of its kiosks. This seems like perfectly reasonable first sale rights. A legitimate code was purchased, and then resold.

        When we wrote about the case back in February, it involved the court smacking down Disney, and even saying that the company was engaged in “copyright misuse” in overclaiming what copyright allowed the company to do. Later in that ruling, the court also rejected Disney’s claim that Redbox was in breach of a contract by saying that the text Disney prints on the box (at the time: “codes are not for sale or transfer”) was not actually a contract. Of course, as we noted at the time, the court’s language made it clear that slightly different language could fix this.

      • Yandex Refuses to Remove Pirate Content: Blocking Imminent, Despite Appeal (Updated)

        The video portal of Russian search giant Yandex will be blocked today on the orders of the Moscow City Court after the company refused to remove links to pirated content. Yandex says the order is unlawful and will launch an appeal but the local telecoms watchdog is already warning of potential over-blocking that could affect all of Yandex’s services.

      • This Music Theory Professor Just Showed How Stupid and Broken Copyright Filters Are

        With a new vote looming for the proposal in the EU Parliament, one German music professor has perfectly illustrated how automated copyright filters repeatedly fail.

        German music professor Ulrich Kaiser this week wrote about a troubling experiment he ran on YouTube. As a music theory teacher, Kaiser routinely works to catalog a collection of public domain recordings he maintains online in order to teach his students about Beethoven and other classical music composers.


        Google’s Content ID is the result of more than $100 million in investment funds and countless development hours. Yet Kaiser found the system was largely incapable of differentiating between copyrighted music and content in the public domain. And the appeals process that Google has erected to tackle these false claims wasn’t any better.

      • US Supreme Court Petitioned to Fix Repeat Infringer ‘DMCA Disarray’

        Adult content producer Ventura Content has petitioned the court to clarify how and when the DMCA protects online services from piracy liability. According to Ventura, the lower courts have “given birth to a new monster,” the online service provider that is “brazenly rich only from others’ content.”

      • BREIN Shuts Down Usenet Indexing Community, Settles With Operators

        Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN has claimed another scalp on the piracy front. Place2Home was the largest Usenet community in the Netherlands but has now closed its doors. After successfully shutting down its torrent-focused sister site back in May, BREIN has now reached settlements with the operators of both platforms.

Feeling Shut Out of the European Patent System, Team UPC Persists With Misleading Claims and Falsehoods

Thursday 30th of August 2018 11:05:42 PM

The litigation ‘industry’ wants to control everything, including the underlying rules/laws

Summary: Just like the patent microcosm in the US (facing 35 U.S.C. § 101 and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)), Europe’s patent microcosm is looking to mislead clients, encouraging them to pursue patents which would be of no real value

THE EPO does not grant so-called ‘unitary’ patents. It probably never will. The USPTO grants patents that can theoretically be leveraged in any US state, but there too — after TC Heartland (SCOTUS) — there are serious limitations. We’ll say more about it in the weekend.

Europe needs unity. But that does not mean it needs the so-called ‘unitary’ patent court, sometimes known as UPC or Unitary Patent. Calling litigation, raids and embargoes “unity” or “unitary” is just laughable because these things divide, they do not unite. We have spent almost a decade writing about it — going back to the days it was euphemistically labeled “EU patent”, “community patent” etc. They keep shuffling euphemisms, hoping that some nonsensical term eventually sticks. Maybe they’ll rename again in the future.

In this post we’d like to draw attention to new misinformation. Earlier this week, over at the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), Melanie Stevenson from Carpmaels & Ransford LLP (together with Roger Lush and David Holland) perpetuated the famous two lies about UPC. She said this: “Looking to the future, the government proposes that the “UK should continue to participate in the unitary patent system and the Unified Patent Court that underpins it”, confirming the United Kingdom’s long-held desire to participate in this new pan-European system. The arrival of the new patent and associated court continues to be delayed by the constitutional challenge in Germany, but once that is complete the new system could be ready to launch in 2019. Further news is anticipated regarding how the government and the European Union could work together in order to preserve the geographical breadth of the new system, which is one of its key selling points.”

A selling point to who? Patent trolls, sure. And their legal representatives, i.e. firms like hers.

AWA’s Sofia Willquist, whom we mentioned here before, also pretends that UPC is inevitable, but the so-called ‘unitary’ patent is dead except in the eyes of dyed-in-the-wool believers (because they stand to gain financially). Quoting Willquist’s new post: “With regards to patents, current validations of European patents in the UK will remain unaffected by the Brexit, and as set out by the UK IPO the UK thus intends to stay in the Unified Patent Court and unitary patent system after leaving the EU.”

How can you “stay” in something that does not even exist? These are loaded statements. They’re crafted to deceive.

Here is another new example, coming from a new interview with Kerry Flynn, vice president and chief IP counsel at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. He said this: “In our industry we are now considering the impact of the unitary patent system and Brexit in Europe, and inter partes review proceedings in the United States.”

He’s alluding to UPC, which does not exist, then to PTAB inter partes reviews (IPRs), which are generally feared by companies like his. It’s similar to the Boards of Appeals which Battistelli attacked so viciously for at least 4 years.

The Boards of Appeals generally help ascertain patent quality (at least in theory if not in practice too, assuming they’re truly independent). The Boards of Appeals were recently brought up by Mitscherlich PartmbB's Christian Rupp and earlier this week he brought them up again:

Parameters, i.e. new medical values or ranges, are typical limiting features of claims. In the following guidance shall be given as how to avoid pitfalls in the context of parameters and claims and their associated measurement methods.


In the past, the EPO had taken the view (see e.g. T464/05 of May 14, 2007) that the absence of information in the application/patent regarding the method for measuring a crucial parameter implies substantial differences in the measured values obtainable when using one or the other of possible measuring methods known from the prior art. In the decision T464/05 this had been considered as being objectionable under Art. 83 EPC.

However, meanwhile the Boards of Appeal of the EPO have developed a more subtle approach (see e.g. T608/07 and T482/09 of 2009 and 2011, respectively). In T608/07 the Board had taken the view that an objection of insufficiency of disclosure (Art. 83 EPC) is only justified when the discrepancy in the measured values is of such magnitude that it “permeates the whole claim“ and „hence deprives the skilled person of the promise of the invention”.

As we said in response to Rupp’s writings last week, the Boards of Appeals no longer enjoy even the perception of independence and the EPC no longer applies/holds at the EPO, which repeatedly violated it. Rupp would be wiser to actually tackle EPO scandals, highlighting some of the issues presently under consideration at the German FCC.

Don’t expect the FCC to give the ‘green light’ to UPC Agreement (UPCA) ratification; besides, it can take another year if not a couple more years for the FCC to decide. By that stage, a lot will have changed; the EPO, for example, already rots. We are still deeply concerned about what Battistelli and Michel Barnier have done, knowing that France is reserved a special role in the imaginary (hypothetical) UPC. We suppose Battistelli still fantasises about making a ‘comeback’ as head of UPC, knowing the role is destined to be France’s. Battistelli is a profoundly corrupt person with a proven history of attacks on justice, on judges, and even fundamental laws, treaties (e.g. EPC) and so on. Only a crooked or highly misled FCC would allow the UPCA to move ahead.

António Campinos Already Implements a ‘Shadow’ Layoffs Method at the EPO

Thursday 30th of August 2018 10:27:35 PM

Not a novel trick

Summary: Battistelli’s French successor, whom he chose (António Campinos has long known Battistelli), carries on with the destruction of the EPO — a destruction which was triggered by Battistelli’s awful policies and incredibly bad strategy

THE INEVITABLE has begun; we saw that coming, as did SUEPO, the EPO‘s staff union. It wasn't even hard to see it coming, knowing that the Office is now run/governed/crushed under António Campinos, who long enjoyed if not exploited immunity; he quite likely breaks EU law when he fires many workers (even in his EU-IPO days).

“This means that the process of actual examination isn’t valued/cherished anymore.”Today’s EPO does not value patent quality, only the speed (and volume) of granting. This means that the process of actual examination isn’t valued/cherished anymore. As we have been pointing out many times since July, under António Campinos the EPO constantly promotes software patents (about 2-3 times per day!) — a lot more than under Battistelli. Is this what the EPO foresees as its future? Granting a lot of bogus monopolies? Courts would not honour these. Watch what Jacobacci & Partners has just published; They’re just calling software “AI” — as the EPO now encourages (about twice a day, sometimes even more!) — to patent code/algorithms.

“As we have been pointing out many times since July, under António Campinos the EPO constantly promotes software patents (about 2-3 times per day!) — a lot more than under Battistelli.”Citing this recent post, earlier this week I responded to the German FCC after it had posted a link to this new press release titled “Effective protection of fundamental rights must be guaranteed where sovereign powers are transferred to supranational organisations”.

“The abuses associated with UPC have destroyed the EPO in Munich,” I told them politely. “The EPO is not compatible with anything in the Western world,” I said in relation to this remark from Benjamin Henrion (FFII): “EPO maladministration cannot be brought in front of a court, EPO has legal immunity “It guarantees the basic right to challenge measures of public authority before a court.””

To quote the FCC itself:

Laws that transfer sovereign powers to international organisations (Art. 24(1) of the Basic Law, Grundgesetz – GG) are, as acts of German state authority, bound by the fundamental rights. The core content (Wesensgehalt) of fundamental rights must be guaranteed also with regard to supranational powers. Where sovereign powers are transferred to international organisations, the legislature is obliged to ensure the minimum protection of fundamental rights required under the Basic Law. In addition, within the scope of their competences, all constitutional organs are obliged to take steps towards upholding the minimum standard of fundamental rights protection required under the Basic Law. This obligation applies to the establishment of an international organisation as well as its entire existence. The minimum standard of fundamental rights protection required under the Basic Law includes the guarantee of effective and comprehensive legal protection.

In an order published today, the Second Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court dismissed as inadmissible a constitutional complaint because violations of these requirements were not sufficiently substantiated. The constitutional complaint was directed against judgments of the Frankfurt am Main Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) and the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof), which held that there was no domestic legal protection against a decision of the Board of Governors of the European Schools, an international organisation, to increase school fees.


The complainants’ challenge of the German Act of Approval to the Convention defining the Statute of the European Schools does not satisfy the requirements to state reasons. They did not sufficiently substantiate why the Act might be essential or unconstitutional. It cannot be inferred from the complainants’ submission that the Act has become unconstitutional over time because the Board of Governors did not ensure effective legal protection, which led to structural shortcomings regarding implementation. In particular, the complainants did not set out that the report including reasons of the Chairman of the Complaints Board of 8 November 2004, in which he declared that the Complaints Board is not competent for the review of school fee increases, was not just an error of judgment in the individual case.

It is worrying to see that Germany’s relative apathy towards EPO abuses now dooms the Office. As an insider explained a few hours ago, the EPO is in effect laying off a lot of workers:

But Märpel could find an excel program called “Early Certainty Timeliness Simulator”. Do not ask for a download: it only works within the EPO intranet. It was not designed that way for security: more simply it keeps itself up to date on statistics by downloading new ones from the internal databases: new patents filed, patents already searched, grants and withdrawals, etc…

The “Early Certainty Timeliness Simulator” computes future workload per directorate, draws a set of nice curves, etc… Märpel took some time to play with it. In most directorates, stock will reach zero within one or 2 years.

Märpel can only hope for a serious bug in that software. But if the software is right, Märpel knows why President Campinos is not too worried about difficulties in recruiting. And he is not: projections distributed to managers show no recruitment until 2024: 6 years!

How many people will have left by then? Maybe a thousand of so (people are being pushed out). So that’s their way of implementing gradual layoffs. They hope nobody will notice.

“There are even more pressing issues to discuss because the leadership of the EPO now puts at risk/peril Europe’s patent regime.”As mentioned by some Twitter accounts and by SUEPO, the “EPO staff committees reveal three pillars for dialogue with Campinos”. It’s about an article from yesterday which said:

The European Patent Office’s (EPO) Local Staff Committees of Munich and Berlin have outlined three key pillars as a starting point for dialogue with new EPO president António Campinos.

In a post by the committees, three pillars, covering work, social, and legal issues were discussed, with a view to bring “further topics” in the future.

On the first pillar, work, the committees said that “challenging people” represents one of the main strategies of the EPO management to increase productivity and motivate staff, but that this strategy “incited EPO managers to develop a broadly negative perception of their staff and vice-versa”.

“It contributed to a strong production increase at the cost of open collaboration, discussion culture, trust and patent quality.”

The committees said that current production targets were the “wrong incentives” and threaten patent quality.

There are even more pressing issues to discuss because the leadership of the EPO now puts at risk/peril Europe’s patent regime. It’s still Battistelli’s and Michel Barnier‘s UPC strategy, which failed pretty badly because the FCC likely dealt the final blow to the UPC, which is simply unconstitutional and definitely fails to address the needs of Europe; it’s about the needs of some law firms and their multinational clients, including patent trolls. We’ll say more about the UPC in our next post.

Links 30/8/2018: Foundations of Free Software Growing, Mesa 18.2 RC5 Released

Thursday 30th of August 2018 09:23:13 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Server
    • Open source hypervisor technical support, update considerations

      Even though open source software itself is completely free to obtain and use, effective hypervisor technical support options for production environments might cost money.


      Ultimately, an open source hypervisor might lack a meaningful development roadmap. Features, compatibilities and optimizations might take years to arrive, if ever, depending on the skills and objectives of the developer community. And effective technical support options might cost money, even though the open source software itself is completely free to obtain and use. This means it’s extremely important for potential adopters to perform extensive due diligence testing before adopting an open source hypervisor.

  • Kernel Space
    • The Performance Cost Of Spectre / Meltdown / Foreshadow Mitigations On Linux 4.19

      One of the most frequent test requests recently has been to look at the overall performance cost of Meltdown/Spectre mitigations on the latest Linux kernel and now with L1TF/Foreshadow work tossed into the mix. With the Linux 4.19 kernel that just kicked off development this month has been continued churn in the Spectre/Meltdown space, just not for x86_64 but also for POWER/s390/ARM where applicable. For getting an overall look at the performance impact of these mitigation techniques I tested three Intel Xeon systems and two AMD EPYC systems as well as a virtual machine on each side for seeing how the default Linux 4.19 kernel performance — with relevant mitigations applied — to that of an unmitigated kernel.

    • Linux Foundation on Track for Best Year Ever as Open Source Dominates

      Zemlin noted that Linux now represents 100 percent of the supercomputer market, 90 percent of the cloud, 82 percent of the smartphone market and 62 percent of the embedded systems market. He added that in every market Linux has entered, it eventually dominates.

      The Linux Foundation in 2018 is about much more than Linux and is home to the world’s largest SSL/TLS certificate authority with Let’s Encrypt. It is also home to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), which runs the Kubernetes container orchestration project.

      Zemlin noted the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux project is now backed by 12 major auto vendors and is slated for production in millions of vehicles worldwide. The Hyperledger project is another Linux Foundation led effort, which is developing enterprise blockchain technologies.

    • Linux Kernel Developer Criticizes Intel for Meltdown, Spectre Response

      At the Open Source Summit North America here on Aug. 29, Greg Kroah-Hartman warned attendees about the severe impact the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities could have on them, as well as detailed how Linux kernel developers are dealing with the flaws.

      Kroah-Hartman is one of the world’s leading Linux kernel developers, with responsibility for maintaining the stable Linux kernel, and is employed by the Linux Foundation as a Fellow. During his talk, Kroah-Hartman detailed the root impact and the response of Linux kernel developers for seven variants of Meltdown and Spectre, though he saved his strongest criticism for Intel’s initial disclosure.

      “Jann Horn discovered the first issues in July of 2017, but it wasn’t until Oct. 25 of last year that some of us in the kernel community heard rumors of the flaw,” he said. “That’s a long time, and we only heard rumors because another very large operating system vendor told Intel to get off their tails and tell us about it.”

    • Supporting the NDS32 Architecture

      It looks like there’s no controversy over this port, and it should fly into the main tree. One reason for the easy adoption is that it doesn’t touch any other part of the kernel—if the patch breaks anything, it’ll break only that one architecture, so there’s very little risk in letting Green make his own choices about what to include and what to leave out. Linus’s main threshold will probably be, does it compile? If yes, then it’s okay to go in.

      The situation may start to become interesting if other parts of the kernel begin offering special behaviors for the NDS32 architecture, and if those behaviors start deviating too far from other architectures. For example, some architectures have special memory managing features that the kernel proper can take advantage of. Once NDS32 starts influencing code in other parts of the kernel, that likely would be the time Green’s patches start to get a lot more scrutiny.

    • Linux kernel 4.18: Better security, leaner code

      The recent release of Linux kernel 4.18 followed closely by the releases of 4.18.1, 4.18.2, 4.18.3, 4.18.4, and 4.18.5 brings some important changes to the Linux landscape along with a boatload of tweaks, fixes, and improvements.

      While many of the more significant changes might knock the socks off developers who have been aiming at these advancements for quite some time, the bulk of them are likely to go unnoticed by the broad expanse of Linux users. Here we take a look at some of the things this new kernel brings to our systems that might just make your something-to-get-a-little-excited-about list.

    • Linux Foundation
      • Solving License Compliance at the Source: Adding SPDX License IDs

        Accurately identifying the license for open source software is important for license compliance. However, determining the license can sometimes be difficult due to a lack of information or ambiguous information. Even when there is some licensing information present, a lack of consistent ways of expressing the license can make automating the task of license detection very difficult, thus requiring significant amounts of manual human effort. There are some commercial tools applying machine learning to this problem to reduce the false positives, and train the license scanners, but a better solution is to fix the problem at the upstream source.

        In 2013, the U-boot project decided to use the SPDX license identifiers in each source file instead of the GPL v2.0 or later header boilerplate that had been used up to that point. The initial commit message had an eloquent explanation of reasons behind this transition.

      • Yocto Project Welcomes New Members, Advances Open Source Embedded Systems Through Momentum

        The Yocto Project, an open source collaboration project that helps developers create custom Linux-based systems for embedded products, today announces continued growth with two new platinum members, an upcoming project release and ongoing community engagement.

        The Yocto Project provides a flexible set of tools and a space where embedded developers worldwide can share technologies, software stacks, configurations, and best practices to create tailored Linux images for embedded and Internet of Things (IOT) devices. The Yocto Project launched in 2011 and currently has over 22 active members.

      • Arm and Facebook join Yocto Project

        Arm and Facebook have joined Intel and TI as Platinum members of the Yocto Project for embedded Linux development. Meanwhile, the Linux Foundation announced 47 new Silver members.

        The Linux Foundation’s seven-year old Yocto Project was originally an Intel project, and the chipmaker has continued to nurture it over the years. Yet, the Yocto Project’s collection of open source templates, tools, and methods for creating custom embedded Linux-based systems was quickly embraced by the Arm world as well as x86. Now, the technology’s presence in Arm Linux has been reinforced at the membership level with Arm and Facebook joining Intel and Texas Instruments as Platinum members. In other news, the Linux Foundation announced 51 new Silver and Associate members (see farther below).

      • Google Hands Off Kubernetes to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Kinetica Joins Automotive Grade Linux, NordVPN Releases NordVPN Linux App, Storj Labs Announces The Open Source Partner Program and Update on Librem 5 Phone

        Google is handing over control of the Kubernetes project to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. According to the TechCrunch post, Google is providing the foundation $9 million in Google Cloud credits to help cover the costs of building, testing and distributing the software.

      • Going Deeper and More Distributed, Linux Introduces Two New Projects

        There seems to be no stopping the Linux Foundation these days, as their support of open source code and positively disrupting entire industries continues, this week with the announcement of two new projects: Angel and Elastic Deep Learning (EDL).

        This comes at a time when the world’s largest telecom and technology companies are joining the Foundation and contributing substantial projects and source code; in the case of these latest projects, they surfaced as part of the LF Deep Learning Foundation, introduced in March of this year. LF Deep Learning is an umbrella organization to support open source innovation in AI, ML and deep learning.

        AT&T and Tech Mahindra were among the founding members of Deep Learning and donated their Acumos AI project to get a big and growing party started. Acumos is a platform for the development, discovery and sharing of AI models and AI workflows, and is being leveraged by heavyweight co-founders Amdocs, Huawei, Nokia, ZTE, Tencent and Baidu.

      • Corporate Open Source Programs are on the Rise as Shared Software Development Becomes Mainstream for Businesses

        “Almost every organization today uses open source code and it has become table stakes for most businesses, even though it’s not always fully understood at the executive or strategic level,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation and Co-Founder of the TODO Group at The Linux Foundation. “The results of the Open Source Program Management Survey point to a growing awareness by decision makers of the need for formal open source programs and policies to manage how open source code is used and produced, as well as an increasing understanding of how it can be strategically integrated into a company’s business plans.”

    • Graphics Stack
      • AMD ROCm 1.8.3 Released To Fix Breakage With Latest Ubuntu 18.04 Kernel

        While still waiting on the ROCm 1.9 release to happen, version 1.8.3 of the Radeon Open Compute stack was released for Linux systems.

        This latest point release to ROCm 1.8 comes just to fix a build regression against the latest Ubuntu 18.04 kernel update.

      • mesa 18.2.0-rc5

        The fifth release candidate for the Mesa 18.2.0 is now available.

      • Mesa 18.2-RC5 Released With Another

        Mesa 18.2 will be slipping into September with two open Intel driver bugs still blocking the official release.

        Andres Gomez of Igalia announced the fifth release candidate of Mesa 18.2 on Thursday. There are 23 bugs part of the RC5 release. But a SynMark performance regression and OpenGL Piglit test case failure both with the Intel driver stack are blocking the official 18.2.0 release, which was originally talked about for last week.

      • Introducing GitLab

        This is quite a long post. The executive summary is that now hosts an instance of GitLab, which is generally available and now our preferred platform for hosting going forward. We think it offers a vastly better service, and we needed to do it in order to offer the projects we host the modern workflows they have been asking for.

        In parallel, we’re working on making our governance, including policies, processes and decision making, much more transparent.

    • Benchmarks
      • pvmove speed

        The left part is with pvmove. The right part, two and a half times as fast, is with… tar piping to tar.

        Oh well, I remember the days when pvmove was 1–2 MB/sec. But it’s still not very impressive

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • My experience in Akademy.

        And there I was: Flying the longest flight I’ve ever flown. The journey had started two years ago, when I joined Nitrux. I was a very excited about it! After lots of lines of code (and days, too), I was traveling to Guatemala City, expectant about how would Akademy was going to be like. After landing on Alajuela, again on Madrid, and finally on Vienna, I found myself amazed. I was there! I was there!

        Akademy started for me on august 14, because of a delay on my flight. That day I assisted to the Maui Project BoF, which was lead by my friend Camilo, and to the Kirigami BoF. Both of them were great, as I met awesome people in there and I learnt a bunch of interesting things about Kirigami. After that, I walked by the streets of Vienna with my good friend Uri.

      • Improve your C++ code in KDevelop with Clang-Tidy

        You might be aware of Clang-Tidy, the clang-based C++ “linter” tool which allows static analysis of your code, including fixing it automatically where possible.
        And you remember the introduction of the “Analyzer run mode” with version 5.1 of KDevelop, the extensible cross-platform IDE for C, C++, Python, PHP and other languages.


        Learn more about the kdev-clang-tidy plugin from its file, e.g. how to build it, how to package it, how to use it, where to report issues, and what the planned roadmap is.

        The latest released kdev-clang-tidy version is currently also included in the Nightly AppImage builds of the current stable KDevelop code version (which already switched to the 5.3 branch).

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Work Started This Summer On Adding System Power Information To GNOME-Usage

        GNOME’s Usage application that allows visualizing processor, memory, disk, and network usage may soon be able to report your system’s power consumption data.

        Student developer Aditya Manglik spent the summer participating in Google Summer of Code 2018 where he had been working on implementing a power panel within the GNOME-Usage program. The goal was to provide power metrics backed by UPower for being able to report per-application power usage (percentage), hardware devices consuming the most power, and displaying this all nicely inside gnome-usage.

        The concept is akin to Intel’s PowerTop but for nicely displaying all available system power consumption data — based upon what’s supported by the system hardware, etc — via the GNOME-Usage utility.

  • Distributions
    • Reviews
      • Zorin OS 12.4 Core and Ultimate – The Biggest Release Yet

        Zorin OS is a material-inspired, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS-based GNU/Linux distro that offers users the ability to customize their desktop in any way they like.

        It is powered by the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel, and ships with the Zorin Desktop 2.0 desktop environment which is a major revamp given that it comes with an advanced universal search functionality, richer notifications, and support for advanced display features on modern PCs, among others.

        According to the release statement, this release is the biggest the OS has ever seen. This version 12 comes in two variants, Core and Ultimate, and according to its release announcement, it is “the biggest release in the history of Zorin OS” with over a year of planning and development.

        It has 4 editions that you can pick according to your needs and they are Core, Lite, Ultimate, and Business.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • SUSE builds momentum with innovative open source offerings

        Jay Lyman, principal analyst for 451 Research, said, “Over the past few years, SUSE has expanded its portfolio into new areas, such as storage, cloud, containers and application delivery. With new independence and backing from Swedish private equity (PE) firm EQT Partners, SUSE is answering market demand for a neutral, yet comprehensive hybrid cloud platform that supports multiple public and private clouds as well as on-premises infrastructure integration with software such as its SUSE Linux Enterprise 15.”

      • SUSE Builds Momentum with Innovative Open Source Offerings, Revenue Growth and Commitment to Enterprise Customers

        SUSE® is an open source pioneer that has provided enterprise-grade software to tens of thousands of organizations for more than 25 years. As SUSE prepares to embark upon its next phase of corporate development as a stand-alone company*, it continues to grow and build momentum with its core products, emerging solutions, communities and partners while expanding its presence in new market segments. SUSE is better positioned than ever before to shepherd enterprises through the demands of digital transformation with open source innovation and expertise in software-defined infrastructure, application delivery and cloud technologies.

    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E25 – The Wrong Side of Twenty-Five – Ubuntu Podcast

            This week we’ve been upgrading a Steam box. We discuss Steam Play beta and Proton, Google’s salty disclosure of security issue in the Android installer for Fortnite, and Windows 95 being available for all the things. We also round up the community news.

          • Recommended GNOME Shell Extensions for Ubuntu 18.04

            Continuing tradition, here’s my list of nice GNOME Shell Extensions for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. They are Extensions (handy extensions enable/disable switcher), AlternateTab (remove grouping in Alt+Tab), NetSpeed (show internet speed) Focusli (innovative focus-while-working tool), and 7 more. Happy installing and be more productive!

          • The enterprise deployment game-plan: why multi-cloud is the future

            It wasn’t too long ago that hybrid cloud was the go-to strategy for enterprises, garnering the attention of CIOs and CTOs around the world.

            And it’s clearly here to stay. Analyst firm 451 Research estimates that 69% of enterprises will be running hybrid IT environments by 2019, while Gartner predicts that 90% of organisations will adopt hybrid infrastructure management capabilities by 2020.

            But the world of cloud is changing. In recent months, hybrid cloud has been overtaken by its close relative ‘multi-cloud’, with 79% of businesses already admitting to working with more than one cloud provider. For those who are prepared to embrace a mix of providers across both public and private platforms, multi-cloud is now widely considered to be the future of cloud computing.

          • Ubuntu Guide: How To Install Nvidia Drivers And Play Windows Games On Linux
          • Flavours and Variants
            • Enlightenment Has Limits in Bodhi Linux

              Bodhi Linux is elegant and lightweight. It is worth putting this distro through its paces. It will not please every power user, but it offers a nice change of pace.

              This distro can be a productive and efficient computing platform. Bodhi is very easy to use. It has a low learning curve. New Linux users can get acquainted right away.

              Bodhi’s minimum system requirements are a 500mhz processor with 256 MB of RAM and 5 GB of drive space. You will get better performance from a computer with a 1.0ghz processor powered by 512 MB of RAM and 10 GB of drive space.

              The installation routine is driven by the Ubiquity Installer. No surprise there since Bodhi is based on Ubuntu Linux.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Pixvana VR Video Streaming Tech Is Now Open Source

    Pixvana today announced that it’s no longer keeping a tight grip on it’s high-resolution VR video streaming technology. The company believes that releasing an open-sourced version of its SPIN Play SDK should spur app developers to adopt its technology and push adoption of immersive video formats.

    Pixvana’s video streaming technology is a cloud-based system with a drag and drop interface that allows developers to import 360-degree and 180-degree video content in both mono and stereo configurations at up to 16K resolution. The open-source SPIN Play SDK and Apache 2.0 library is compatible with the Unity engine, which should enable developers to adopt the platform rapidly and with ease.

    The SPIN Play SDK offers support for VR-native playback projections and Field of View Adaptive Streaming, which reduces the bandwidth requirements by delivering only the image within the user’s current field of view.

  • Pixvana Open-Sources SDK to Advance VR Video Streaming Apps

    Pixvana, a company that powers the future of XR storytelling and immersive media, today announced that it is open-sourcing its software development kit (SDK), allowing third-parties to incorporate Pixvana’s cloud-services and VR video streaming technology with their own publishing infrastructure to create high-quality branded VR video applications.

  • Pixvana Open-Sources its VR Video Streaming SDK

    Pixvana is a company focused on immersive media and XR storytelling by way of its SPIN Play platform. Today, it has announced the open-sourcing of its software development kit (SDK) for third-parties to use.

  • Why Open Source Works for the Renewable Energy Sector
  • EPFL’s Blue Brain Project open sources interactive visualization tool — RTNeuron

    The aim of the Blue Brain Project is to build accurate, biologically-detailed, digital reconstructions and simulations of the rodent brain. The supercomputer-based reconstructions and simulations built by the project offer a radically new approach for understanding the multi-level structure and function of the brain.

  • Airbnb Open-sources MvRx for Android App Development in Kotlin

    MvRx (pronounced “mavericks”) help Android developers implement common features and integrating their apps properly with the OS. MvRx is written in Kotlin and powers all Android development at Airbnb, writes Airbnb engineer Gabriel Peal.

  • Release notes for the Genode OS Framework 18.08

    With Genode 18.08, we enter the third episode of the story of Sculpt, which is our endeavor to shape Genode into a general-purpose operating system. In the first two episodes, we addressed early adopters and curious technology enthusiasts. Our current ambition is to gradually widen the audience beyond those groups. The release reflects this by addressing four concerns that are crucial for general-purpose computing.

    First and foremost, the system must support current-generation hardware. Section Device drivers describes the substantial update of Genode’s arsenal of device drivers. This line of work ranges from updated 3rd-party drivers, over architectural changes like the split of the USB subsystem into multiple components, to experimental undertakings like running Zircon drivers of Google’s Fuchsia project as Genode components.

  • Genode OS 18.08 Brings Support For Intel CPU Microcode Updating, Newer Linux Drivers

    The Genode Operating System Framework is out with its latest release as well as an updated SculptOS that they are forging as their general purpose operating system.

  • Web Browsers
    • Mozilla
      • Changing Our Approach to Anti-tracking

        Anyone who isn’t an expert on the internet would be hard-pressed to explain how tracking on the internet actually works. Some of the negative effects of unchecked tracking are easy to notice, namely eerily-specific targeted advertising and a loss of performance on the web. However, many of the harms of unchecked data collection are completely opaque to users and experts alike, only to be revealed piecemeal by major data breaches. In the near future, Firefox will — by default — protect users by blocking tracking while also offering a clear set of controls to give our users more choice over what information they share with sites.

      • Lunchtime brown bags

        Over the Summer I’ve come to organise quite a number of events in Mozilla’s London office. Early Summer we started doing lunchtime brown bags, where staff give a 10 ~ 15 minute informal talk about what they are currently working on or a topic of their interest.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • The Commons Clause – For Good or Bad

      The current debate about the Commons Clause, and other attempts to place restrictions on open source licences, is dividing opinion. But before taking sides first we need to understand what the Commons Clause does and why it is necessary.

      According to the on its GitHub repo the Commons Clause is a Licence Condition contributed by FOSSA, a company which offers open-source licence management and drafted by Heather Meeker, a lawyer specializing in open source software licensing, including IP strategy, compliance, transactions, and disputes.

      The Commons Clause can be added as a commercial restriction on top of an open source licence to transition an existing open source project to a source availability licensing scheme, which means that while the source can be viewed, and in some cases modified, it is no longer fully open source. The restriction it imposes is that it denies the right to sell the software.

    • Challenges in Maintaining A Big Tent for Software Freedom

      In recent weeks, I’ve been involved with a complex internal discussion by a major software freedom project about a desire to take a stance on social justice issues other than software freedom. In the discussion, many different people came forward with various issues that matter to them, including vegetarianism, diversity, and speech censorship, wondering how that software freedom project should handle other social justices causes that are not software freedom. This week, (separate and fully unrelated) another project, called Lerna, publicly had a similar debate. The issues involved are challenging, and it deserves careful consideration regardless of how the issue is raised.

      One of the first licensing discussions that I was ever involved in the mid 1990s was with a developer, who was a lifelong global peace activist, objecting to the GPL because it allowed the USA Department of Defense and the wider military industrial complex to incorporate software into their destructive killing machines. As a lifelong pacifist myself, I sympathized with his objection, and since then, I have regularly considered the question of “do those who perpetrate other social injustices deserve software freedom?”

      I ultimately drew much of my conclusion about this from activists for free speech, who have a longer history and have therefore had longer time to consider the philosophical question. I remember in the late 1980s when I first learned of the ACLU, and hearing that they assisted the Klu-Klux Klan in their right to march. I was flabbergasted; the Klan is historically well-documented as an organization that was party to horrific murder. Why would the ACLU defend their free speech rights? Recently, many people had a similar reaction when, in defense of the freedom of association and free speech of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the ACLU filed an amicus brief in a case involving the NRA, an organization that I and many others oppose politically. Again, we’re left wondering: why should we act to defend the free speech and association rights of political causes we oppose — particularly for those like the NRA and big software companies who have adequate resources to defend themselves?

  • Licensing/Legal
    • Software created using taxpayers’ money should be Free Software

      It might seem obvious that software created using tax money should be available for everyone to use and improve. Free Software Foundation Europe recentlystarted a campaign to help get more people to understand this, and I just signed the petition on Public Money, Public Code to help them. I hope you too will do the same.

    • Major Open Source Project Revokes Access to Companies That Work with ICE [iophk: "former open source now ... however, it is their code and they can change the license"]

      On Tuesday, the developers behind a widely used open source code-management software called Lerna modified the terms and conditions of its use to prohibit any organization that collaborates with ICE from using the software. Among the companies and organizations that were specifically banned were Palantir, Microsoft, Amazon, Northeastern University, Motorola, Dell, UPS, and Johns Hopkins University.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Access/Content
      • California Bill Is a Win for Access to Scientific Research

        The California legislature just scored a huge win in the fight for open access to scientific research. Now it’s up to Governor Jerry Brown to sign it.

        Under A.B. 2192—which passed both houses unanimously—all peer-reviewed, scientific research funded by the state of California would be made available to the public no later than one year after publication. There’s a similar law on the books in California right now, but it only applies to research funded by the Department of Public Health, and it’s set to expire in 2020. A.B. 2192 would extend it indefinitely and expand it to cover research funded by any state agency. EFF applauds the legislature for passing the bill, and especially Assemblymember Mark Stone for introducing it and championing it at every step.

        A.B. 2192’s fate was much less certain a few weeks ago. Lawmakers briefly put the bill in the Suspense File, a docket of bills to be put on the back burner because of their potential impact on the California budget. Fortunately, the Senate Appropriations Committee removed A.B. 2192 from the file after EFF explained that its fiscal impact would be negligible.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Lulzbot hints at SLA 3D printer addition to open source FFF portfolio

        Lulzbot, the open-source brand of the FDM 3D printers from Colorado-based manufacturer Aleph Objects, has hinted the development of an stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer in its latest newsletter.

        The newsletter heading states: “Wash Away Your 3D Printing Preconceptions: We’ve got the cure for the common printer—our newest solution will be released this September! We’re laser focused on the fine details, get on our wavelength to get the info first.”

      • LulzBot Teases New Open Source SLA 3D Printer, Coming September

        Hot on the heels of the release of its LulzBot Mini 2 desktop FDM 3D printer this summer (check out our full review here), LulzBot appears to be readying some new hardware.

        Teased in a fun email newsletter that packs more stereolithography puns than you could shake a resin-covered stick at, LulzBot posits a “cure for your high-resolution 3D printing needs.“.

        Such a system would mark a whole new direction for a company which, to date, has focused solely on fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers.

      • Open source RISC-V implemented from scratch in one night

        Developed in a magic night of 19 Aug, 2018 between 2am and 8am, the darkriscv is a very experimental implementation of the opensource RISC-V instruction set.

  • Programming/Development
    • Federated CI

      In the modern world, a lot of computing happens on other people’s computers. We use a lot of services provided by various parties. This is a problem for user freedom and software freedom. For example, when I use Twitter, the software runs on Twitter’s servers, and it’s entirely proprietary. Even if it were free software, even if it were using the Affero GPL license (AGPL), my freedom would be limited by the fact that I can’t change the software running on Twitter’s servers.

      If I could, it would be a fairly large security problem. If I could, then anyone could, and they might not be good people like I am.

      If the software were free, instead of proprietary, I could run it on my own server, or find someone else to run the software for me. This would make me more free.

      That still leaves the data. My calendars would still be on Twitter’s servers: all my tweets, direct messages, the lists of people I follow, or who follow me. Probably other things as well.

      For true freedom in this context, I would need to have a way to migrate my data from Twitter to another service. For practical freedom, the migration should not be excessively much work, or be excessively expensive, not just possible in principle.

      For Twitter specifically, there’s free-er alternatives, such as Mastodon.

  • Science
    • Indian Government Aims to Take Down Predatory Journals

      Universities in India have until August 30 to present a “white list” of recognized journals to the University Grants Commission, a government body that provides funding and maintains higher-education standards in the country. In previously submitted recommendations, universities have included predatory journals, publishers that charge high fees for low-quality or no peer review.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • How to Roll a Strong Password with 20-Sided Dice and Fandom-Inspired Wordlists

      Here’s the not-so-secret recipe for strong passphrases: a random element like dice, a long list of words, and math. And as long as you have the first two, the third takes care of itself. All together, this adds up to diceware, a simple but powerful method to create a passphrase that even the most sophisticated computer could take at least thousands of years to guess.

      In short, diceware involves rolling a series of dice to get a number, and then matching that number to a corresponding word on a wordlist. You then repeat the process a few times to create a passphrase consisting of multiple words.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • ‘We Were Guinea Pigs’: Soldiers Explain What Nuclear Bomb Blasts Feel Like

      After World War II, the UK, USSR, and US detonated more than 2,000 atomic bombs. In Britain, 20,000 soldiers witnessed atomic blasts conducted by their own government. Only a few of them are still alive today and the nuclear glow of the mushroom cloud they witnessed still haunts them. “Nuclear detonations, that was the defining point in my life,” Douglas Hern, a British soldier who experienced five nuclear bomb tests, told Motherboard.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Natural Gas Industry Again Beats a Tiny West Virginia County That Wanted to Control Its Destiny

      A West Virginia county, whose elected leaders have vocally resisted natural gas industry operations, has again been told by a federal judge that it must allow the work to proceed.

      U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver ruled Wednesday that Fayette County commissioners can’t use their county’s local zoning ordinance to block a compressor station proposed as part of a huge natural gas transmission pipeline. The federal Natural Gas Act, he said, trumps any local zoning rules when it comes to regulating pipelines and associated compressor stations.

      It’s the second time in two years that Copenhaver has overruled efforts by Fayette leaders to protect their county from what they view as negative effects of the ongoing boom in West Virginia’s natural gas industry.

      “I am disappointed in the decision, but I’m not surprised,” Fayette County Commission President Matt Wender said. “It’s very unfortunate that local governance is being ignored to the preference of the natural gas industry.”

  • Finance
    • India replaced its currency to wipe out illegal money stashes. The central bank says it didn’t work.

      Now, newly released data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) shows that 99.3 per cent of high-value notes in circulation – worth around US$216 billion (S$295 billion)) – came back to the banks. That means that those illicit hoards that the government was hoping to flush out of the system were not in the form of cash and are still out there.

    • Vox Sentences: A NAFTA by any other name
    • Senators Seek Answers From HUD About Public Housing Crisis in East St. Louis

      Illinois’ Democratic senators are asking the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to detail what steps the agency is taking to address problems plaguing public housing apartments in East St. Louis, including mice, mold, leaky ceilings and security concerns.

      In a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said they were “concerned HUD is failing to use its oversight authority” to ensure decent, safe conditions for residents living in properties owned and managed by the East St. Louis Housing Authority.

      The letter, sent last week, cites findings from an investigative report published by The Southern Illinoisan and ProPublica this month that detailed ongoing problems a year after HUD gave the housing authority back to local control after a 32-year federal receivership.

      At a ceremony in the city last September, Carson praised HUD’s work to improve the local agency, which houses nearly 4,000 residents, more than half of them children. At the time, he declared that residents “and the future of our children” were no longer at risk in East St. Louis.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Trump’s latest misleading attack on Google, explained

      In a statement given to The Verge, a Google spokesperson clarifies that the company promoted neither former President Barack Obama nor Trump’s inaugural SOTU addresses in 2009 and 2017, respectively. That’s because they were not technically State of the Union addresses, but “addresses to a joint session” of Congress, a tradition set back in 1993 so that new presidents didn’t have to immediately deliver SOTU addresses after holding office for just a few weeks. Google resumed promoting Obama’s SOTU address in 2010 and continued to do so through 2016, as he held office for all six of those years.

    • FBI refutes Trump claim that Clinton’s private email server was hacked by China

      A June report from the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General noted that the FBI had found no evidence of any compromise of Clinton’s mail servers—though full forensic analysis of the servers wasn’t possible, because one (an Apple server) had been disposed of by the time of the investigation.

    • Senate Intel invites Alphabet CEO to testify, rejecting company offer of VP instead

      The panel said it had invited executives from Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify, and that only Google has failed to confirm.

    • Imagine if the BBC Were Honest

      The BBC refuses to answer my Skripal questions to Mark Urban on the grounds they have no legal obligation, instead giving a “statement”. That correspondence follows below. But I want you first to imagine a World in which the BBC and Mark Urban were honest and independent, and imagine these were the answers to my questions:

      1) When the Skripals were first poisoned, it was the largest news story in the entire World and you were uniquely positioned having held several meetings with Sergei Skripal the previous year. Yet faced with what should have been a massive career break, you withheld that unique information on a major story from the public for four months. Why? My interviews with Sergei Skripal were on a strictly off the record basis and I felt honour bound not to mention them until I could obtain his permission.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Mapping The Countries Shutting Down The Internet The Most

      Across the world, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, internet shutdowns and deliberate slowdowns are becoming more common and they generally occur when someone (usually a government) intentionally disrupts the internet or mobile apps to control what people do or say.

    • Google’s Leadership Still Needs To Give Details About Project Dragonfly: Googlers Can Still Help

      Earlier this week, we joined with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Article 19, and 10 other international human rights groups in a letter to Google’s senior leadership, calling on the company to come clean on its intentions in China – both to the public, and within the company.

      A little background: it’s been almost a month since The Intercept first broke the story that Google was planning to release a censored version of its search service inside China. Since that time, very little new information about the effort, known as Project Dragonfly, has come to light. Over 1,400 employees have asked Google to be more transparent about the search giant’s plans, but at an all-hands meeting executives only responded with generalities before the conversation was cut short. Google certainly hasn’t provided the public with any details, leaving many in the human rights community to continue wondering how Google plans to avoid becoming complicit in human rights abuses by the Chinese government.

      Google still owes both audiences—Google employees and the public—an explanation.

    • Why People Named “Wiener,” “Butts,” and “Dikshit” Have Trouble Creating Accounts Online

      Trolls delight in making up “hilarious” fake names, so websites try to filter certain words for new accounts. What if your real name contains one of those words?

      Natalie Weiner, a writer for SB Nation, was recently filtered by just such a system.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Australian Gov’t Likes Intrusive Border Device Searches Just As Much As The US Does

      Hague had no reason to be treated with extra suspicion, but extra suspicion was there all the same, simply because the random selection process told border officers to be as intrusive as possible. He asked officers a reasonable question — if you search my other belongings in public because I’m a randomly selected “threat,” why can’t you search my devices out in the open. There was, of course, no response.

      Other questions about the Border Force’s handling of the contents of Hague’s devices also went unanswered. Officers refused to say whether data would be copied and/or retained, as well as refusing to explain what they were looking for.

      Why did the Border Force perform this intrusive search? Because it can.

    • Facebook Watch rolls out globally in bid to take on YouTube

      Facebook will take a healthy 55 per cent share of ad revenue, leaving 45 per cent for creators. That might seem a little stingy at first, but Facebook Watch potentially gives them access to an audience some 1.5 billion-strong.

    • Data Backed Up from WhatsApp to Google Drive Will Be ‘plaintext’

      According to a recent announcement by Google, Android and iOS users will now be able to backup their Whatsapp data on Google Drive without worrying about storage space. This feature would help save storage space on your Google Drive and will secure your data.

      But secure will it be? Because Google confirmed earlier that your Whatsapp data won’t be encrypted on Google Drive. Yes, the data will be stored without any form of encryption that Whatsapp users have grown accustomed to.

      From November 12 onward, Whatsapp data stored on Google Drive won’t be counted toward your allocated storage quote, Google confirmed. Google isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its heart, in fact, Facebook and Google have come to an agreement regarding Whatsapp data storage on Google Drive.

    • Extension enhances privacy of all embedded YouTube videos

      Get better privacy for embedded YouTube videos with the Privacy Enhanced Mode for Embedded YouTube Videos extension for Firefox.

      Websites like to embed YouTube videos in marketing materials, blog posts, and news stories. It’s much cheaper to offload the bandwidth costs required for hosting high-quality video on a large company like YouTube, and most users get a good experience on most devices most places in the world. It’s a win–win situation, right?

      The elephant in the room is the data collection that happens through embedded content. When embedding a video, you also invite third-parties to track and record information about the interests and movements of people who visit the page. I urged people to stop embedding content over privacy concerns back in 2014. The European Parliament made websites responsible for the data harvesting that happens on their sites (even by third-parties) with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    • Open Rights Group and the3million launch judicial review challenging the Data Protection Act’s immigration exemption

      Human rights organisations have launched a judicial review challenging the UK Government over the inclusion of a specific clause in the Data Protection Act 2018 which, they argue, would unnecessarily restrict the rights of millions of people across the country for the purpose of ‘effective immigration control’.


      Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group said:

      “The Government’s hostile environment may have been renamed, but its policies are clearly still here. Restricting the rights of millions to their personal data in immigration processes risks inaccurate data being used to make life altering decisions. Open Rights Group can’t allow that to pass without challenge.

      The Government is trying to avoid necessary accountability, and remove responsibilities to treat people fairly. This challenge aims to keep fairness and accountability in the immigration system.”

    • 300,000 Finns have stopped using Facebook since April, says social media blogger

      Facebook has lost users particularly in the 30–39 age group, but its popularity seems to be on the decline in all age groups, according to data collected from the advertising tools of Facebook by Pönkä.

      He stresses that he is referring specifically to users who no longer seem to use the service actively, rather than users who have deleted their account altogether.

    • Facebook ‘founder’ claims social media site has caused ‘countless deaths’ by failing to protect users

      Aaron Greenspan, who won a confidential pay-out from Facebook after claiming he came up with the concept for the social network first, has reopened his feud with Mark Zuckerberg by claiming the social media boss sacrificed safeguards on cyberbullying, extremists and data security to pursue growth at all costs.

      In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Greenspan said Mr Zuckerberg had ignored his warnings and instead designed the platform to be as addictive as tobacco in order to recruit and keep users.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Indian Police Adding Pre-Crime Software To Their Long List Of Snooping Tools

      Lots of tech is being deployed by law enforcement around the world — often far in advance of thorough testing, privacy impact assessments, or public input. Biometric scanning, facial recognition software, cell site simulators, social media monitoring tools, and, of course, “predictive policing.”

      The last one on the list brings together a bunch of data and tells cops where to go to stop crime before it happens. Pre-crime is no longer relegated to sci-fi movies providing chilling glimpses of a totalitarian future. It’s here now and it’s converting certain neighborhoods into instant probable cause.

      The Chicago PD is only one of several agencies using the software to generate “heat lists” of citizens in need of arresting. There may be no criminal activity occurring when patrols begin, but the algos say it’s inevitable, so off the cops go to round up people who may be likely to commit crimes.

    • Marines Move to Tackle Racial Extremists in the Corps

      The United States Marine Corps has taken steps to combat racial extremists in its ranks, issuing an updated order emphasizing that participation in white supremacist and other groups is prohibited and encouraging service members to report fellow Marines involved with such groups.

      The actions come after an active-duty Marine was documented taking part in last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and two others were arrested after hanging a racist banner off a building in North Carolina.


      Like every branch of service, the Marine Corps has regulations that bar its members from participating in racial extremist groups, but the updated policy clarifies language on prohibited conduct, chiefly by explicitly identifying “supremacist” activity as forbidden. It also consolidates many previous orders, a large number of which haven’t been updated in years, and aims to tighten accountability when rules of conduct are violated. The updated policy encourages service members who see their peers engaging in prohibited behavior to report them through various channels.

    • Federal Data Shows Public Schools Nationwide Are a Hotbed of Racial Injustice

      A new series of reports from the ACLU and UCLA Civil Rights Project reveal glaring racial disparities in school discipline

      Many students heading back to school are being greeted by more police and metal detectors, but few, if any, counselors — this is especially true for students of color. Beyond having more police officers who could be armed, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reportedly considering a plan to allow states to buy guns for teachers using federal funds.

      Despite the research demonstrating that harsh “school safety” and disciplinary measures are detrimental to students of color, public schools across the country are enhancing efforts to lockdown classrooms, partly in response to the Parkland school shooting that shook the nation.

      As state legislatures take up the Trump administration’s call for increasing “law and order” with more school police, and as DeVos considers whether to undo the Obama administration’s reforms to curb racial bias in school discipline, it’s important to take a close look at what’s happening in schools. A series of reports produced by the ACLU with UCLA (Center for Civil Rights Remedies, Civil Rights Project) analyzes new data from the U.S. Department of Education, collected from all 96,000 public schools in the country. Part I of our publication focuses on the 11 million days of school students lost to suspension in the 2015-16 school year.

      Dramatic disparities exist at the school, district, state, and national level. Black students were just 15 percent of students nationally, but they accounted for 45 percent of all of the days lost due to suspension. This discipline gap contributes to the achievement gap. The 11 million days of lost instruction translates to over 60,000 school years, over 60 million hours of lost education, and billions of dollars wasted in a single school year.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • FCC can define markets with only one ISP as “competitive,” court rules

      The FCC voted last year to eliminate price caps imposed on some business broadband providers such as AT&T and Verizon. The FCC decision eliminated caps in any given county if 50 percent of potential customers “are within a half mile of a location served by a competitive provider.”

    • What To Expect During the Root KSK Rollover

      After the root KSK rollover begins (currently planned for 11 October 2018), a very small percentage of Internet users are expected to see problems in resolving some domain names. There are currently a small number of Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) validating recursive resolvers that are misconfigured, and some of the users relying on these resolvers will experience problems. This document describes which users will see problems and, among them, what kinds of issues they will see at various times.

    • Comcast Is Trying To Ban States From Protecting Broadband & TV Consumers

      The shorter version: the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order effectively cripples the FCC’s ability to protect consumers, then shovels any remaining enforcement authority over to the FTC, which is ill-equipped to actually police the telecom market. Predicting that states would then try to jump in and fill the oversight accountability vacuum (which is precisely what started happening on both net neutrality and privacy), ISPs have also been urging both the FCC and the FTC to ban states from doing so.

      This is all being done under the pretense that blind deregulation of the telecom sector magically results in greater industry investment and broader deployment. But as we’ve explained countless times, that’s not how the U.S. telecom sector works. With neither competition nor reasonable government oversight to constrain it, natural monopolies like Comcast are simply free to double down on all their worst behaviors.

    • That Time Telco Lobbyists Sent Me All Their Talking Points About Trying To Shift The Blame To Internet Companies

      It’s not every day that big telco lobbyists email me their internal documents about how they’re going to try to shift all the negative press about themselves and try to flip it onto internet companies. But it did happen yesterday. In what was clearly a mistake a top exec at the telco’s largest lobbying organization, USTelecom, emailed a 12 page document of talking points yesterday, asking the recipients to “review the document for accuracy and other thoughts” in order to help USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter for when he goes on C-SPAN next week. I found it a bit odd that I would be on the distribution list for such an email — especially when 13 of the 15 recipients of the email were US Telecom employees. And me. The one other non-US Telecom person works at a firm that provides “subject matter experts” and “in-depth legal analysis.”

      The talking points are not all that surprising, if you’re at all familiar with the telco industry, so there aren’t really any huge smoking guns here, but they do cover a huge range of issues, from net neutrality, competition, privacy, cybersecurity, and more. Amusingly, on the net neutrality front, there’s a section on “Verizon Throttling Fire Responders.” Tragically, that appears to be one of the few sections in the document that they hadn’t yet filled in yet — perhaps because the industry still doesn’t have a good response to Verizon throttling fire fighters in California as they were battling wildfires.

    • The lang= attribute in HTML

      Non-native english speaking blind people have their default speech language typically set to their native language. When they end up browsing to a site in english (or any language other than their native one for that matter) the screen reader starts to read english with pronounciation from their native language. While some people start to understand such speech output after a while, it is really a pain to work with. Of course, you can switch to a different speech language manually, but that takes time, and people end up not doing it in a lot of situations.

      Some screen readers have automatic language detection implemented, but it fails to work correctly in many cases, which is why most users have autodetection actually turned off.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • New Document On Traditional Knowledge, Folklore At WIPO; Chair Calls For New Conceptual Approach

      The protection of traditional knowledge and folklore against misappropriation is a topic that has been occupying World Intellectual Property Organization delegates for close to two decades. This week a new draft document, presenting a proposed revision of a set of draft articles of potential treaties, was released by a drafting team. As some countries are keen on preserving their original language and ideas, the committee chair called for delegates to move on with their work, and lift themselves above how the patent and copyright system works.

    • How Not To Freak Out When Someone Copies Your Product

      One of the things we’ve talked about for decades at Techdirt is that companies need to not freak out so much when someone copies their product — whether physical or digital. There are some who believe you need to stop copying at any cost. That always seemed silly for multiple reasons. First, if you have something people want, it’s going to get copied. At some point you have to do something of a cost benefit analysis of whether or not it’s truly worth it to go crazy stopping every copy. Second, if you truly created the original, then you have a leg up on any copycat, in that you have a much better understanding of just about everything: you understand the customers better, you’ve built up brand loyalty and you understand the hidden reasons why people like your product. So you’ll almost certainly continue to innovate above and beyond any copycats. Third, many efforts to stop copycats end up punishing your actual customers, saddling them with a worse product because you’re so overly concerned about copying. This is a story of a company that has gone in the other direction.

      For the last year or so, I’ve been telling a bunch of people about my exercise regime (my coworkers are sick of hearing about it). It began two years ago when I saw a Kickstarter project for Monkii Bars 2 — a suspension training system not unlike TRX (if you’re familiar with that), but a lot more portable. If you spend time on Kickstarter, there are a ton of exercise equipment products there, but nearly all of it looks like most late night infomercial crap (also, I noticed that most of them are based in LA, which perhaps isn’t too surprising). Most of them look snazzy, but also are likely to be the kinds of things that no one ever uses for more than a week. The Monkii bars didn’t look like that at all, though. First, it was from a Colorado company, and the team who made it seemed more like the kind of people I’d actually hang out with, rather than the folks who pitch most exercise equipment. More importantly, though, something about the way the Monkii Bars worked just seemed like a perfect way to get a workout. For whatever reason, I knew that they wouldn’t be a “use it for a week and forget about it” kind of thing (though, I did still at least worry a little bit they would turn out that way).

    • Trademarks
      • Unpacking the S-shape Benelux mark invalidation

        A Netherlands court has invalidated a shape mark for packing peanuts registered in 1994, once again illustrating the difficulty in obtaining and maintaining such registrations in Europe – even those that are old and well-established

    • Copyrights
      • The Mystery Of Columbia Pictures DMCAing Its Own Leaked Promotional Posters For Its ‘Holmes And Watson’ Movie

        It’s no secret that the DMCA process is often abused. Typically, this abuse takes the form of one entity issuing a takedown notice not over true copyright concerns, but rather to either silence speech it doesn’t like or to harm a competitor. It’s a very real problem. But sometimes the misuse of the DMCA takedown process takes a turn towards the bizarre.


        That explanation makes more sense than any other out there, including the idea that Columbia Pictures would want to nuke its own advertising material that had begun to go viral. The company isn’t talking, which is unhelpful. But if that is the explanation, it should be clear that this sort of thing is not what the DMCA process is for and there can be consequences for innocent internet users that are suddenly having DMCA strikes against them, including on social media.

      • ‘’: is the fight against “link rot” copyright compliant?

        From news outlets to academic writing, publishing online is now part of the mainstream amongst publishers. It is relatively inexpensive, instantaneous and reaches readers worldwide. But the dynamism of internet publications does have one inconvenient– “link rot”.

        ‘Link rot’ refers to the decoupling of the hyperlink (or URL) with the webpage with which it was originally associated, rendering the link useless. While you may not be familiar with the phrase link rot itself, undoubtedly you will have experienced some of its most irritating symptoms: ‘page error 404’, ‘The URL you requested was not found’ or ‘Oops! Something wrong happened’. Research shows that, on average, a staggering 50% of links will be decoupled from their original content, i.e. turned to rot, two years following publication (see here and here).

      • Yandex Has Less Than 48 Hours to Tackle Piracy or Get Blocked

        Russian search giant Yandex is facing a copyright crisis. Late last week the Moscow City Court handed down a ruling that required Yandex to remove links to pirated content owned by Gazprom-Media. On Monday, that instruction was reiterated by telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor. If Yandex does not take action by Thursday, its video platform will be blocked by the country’s ISPs.

      • US and Mexico Modernize Copyright Protection in New Trade Deal

        The US Government has reached a new trade agreement with Mexico. The preliminary deal provides strong and effective copyright protection and enforcement, including criminal sanctions against movie cammers. It will also “extend” the minimum copyright term to 75 years, an issue that triggered quite a bit of confusion.

      • Public Knowledge Responds to President Trump’s Outrageous Copyright Giveaway

        “The inclusion of a copyright term extension in the trade agreement announced today is a staggeringly brazen attempt by the entertainment industries to launder unpopular policies through international agreements. Not only would a copyright term extension never survive domestic debate, but it also violates the instructions Congress gave in trade promotion authority, which directed the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate intellectual property provisions consistent with existing law. This is a slap in the face to the public interest, to consumers, and to Congress.

      • Google and Oracle’s $8.8 Billion Copyright Clash to Go to Supreme Court [iophk: "incorrect: Java has a license and the API is part of that"]

        The case revolves around Google’s use of Java APIs (without a licence) to enable Java programmers to build Android apps. When Oracle bought the rights to Java in 2009, it fired the starting gun on the case. Those who have taken similar steps – which are common – could face a wave of litigation if Oracle wins.

      • EU Copyright Directive – who pays the bill for the upload filter?

        Social media companies and content sharing apps could have to foot the bill for a vast automated copyright protection scheme under the most recent EU proposal to update copyright law. For those who remember, this is Hadopi on steroids. It’s a proposal that, history tells us, is unlikely to be workable.

      • Lending Emulations?

        Video games are an important cultural artifact. Unlike books, movies, and even music, national libraries and other archives typically don’t have organized programs to collect and preserve them, much less make them available to scholars. AFAIK the Internet Archive’s accessible collections of console and arcade games are unique among established archives, but they lack Nintendo’s catalog. Figuring out a way for institutions to preserve this history without undue legal risk is important.

Links 30/8/2018: Purism’s Chatty and HHVM 3.28.0

Thursday 30th of August 2018 10:15:00 AM

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • 389 Directory Server set to replace OpenLDAP as Red Hat and SUSE withdraw support for OpenLDAP in their Enterprise Linux offerings

    Red Hat and SUSE have withdrawn their support for OpenLDAP in their Enterprise Linux offers, which will be replaced by Red Hat’s own 389 Directory Server.

    The openldap-server packages were deprecated starting from Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7.4, and will not be included in any future major release of RHEL. SUSE, in their release notes, have mentioned that the OpenLDAP server is still available on the Legacy Module for migration purposes, but it will not be maintained for the entire SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLE) 15 lifecycle.

  • Open Source Integration Leader WSO2 Appoints Darin Bartik as New Chief Marketing Officer
  • Autogrow releases OpenMinder root monitoring system

    Global ag-tech innovator Autogrow has unveiled an open-source root zone monitor as part of an “open-collaboration” platform.

    “OpenMinder is a product that someone can build themselves, but more than that it represents where this industry is going with open-collaboration, APIs and a focus on water sustainability,” explains CEO Darryn Keiller.

    “Governments and local legislators around the world are tightening the rules for growers when it comes to water usage and run-off. Growers need to use any and all tools at their disposal to ensure they are not only growing sustainably but have the data to back it up.”

    OpenMinder is an open-source DIY project from Autogrow targeted to technology developers and for application with small growers. Released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license, OpenMinder provides an open-source API used in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi HAT.

  • Web Browsers
    • Brave Open Source Blockchain Web Browser Sees 10 Million Downloads

      A recent tweet shared by Brave Software has uncovered yet another milestone the firm has attained. Since the launch of Brave, a total of 10 million downloads have been made through Google Play. This particular browser is unique as it not only focuses on one’s web surfing experience, but also prevents advertisements from further ruining it. Most importantly, content creators and regular users get compensated for their contributions (i.e. through Basic Attention Token or BAT).

    • Brave Browser Surpasses 10 Million Downloads on Android

      The user-privacy oriented web browser has passed ten million downloads, a huge milestone for both Brave and the BAT team

    • BAT-Enabled Brave Browser Hits 10 Million Downloads
    • Mozilla
      • Nebulet: A Rust Microkernel Running WebAssembly In Ring 0

        You should likely be familiar with WebAssembly as the binary format for executing code within web pages that can be nearly as fast as running native machine code — and certainly much faster than JavaScript. A new research project has been exploring running WebAssembly in the CPU’s Ring 0 — yes, the highest privileged state of the processor — in the name of better performance.

      • Dweb: Building Cooperation and Trust into the Web with IPFS

        In this series we are covering projects that explore what is possible when the web becomes decentralized or distributed. These projects aren’t affiliated with Mozilla, and some of them rewrite the rules of how we think about a web browser. What they have in common: These projects are open source, and open for participation, and share Mozilla’s mission to keep the web open and accessible for all.


        We’re a team of people all over the world working on IPFS, an implementation of the distributed web that seeks to replace HTTP with a new protocol that is powered by individuals on the internet. The goal of IPFS is to “re-decentralize” the web by replacing the location-oriented HTTP with a content-oriented protocol that does not require trust of third parties. This allows for websites and web apps to be “served” by any computer on the internet with IPFS support, without requiring servers to be run by the original content creator. IPFS and the distributed web unmoor information from physical location and singular distribution, ultimately creating a more affordable, equal, available, faster, and less censorable web.

        IPFS aims for a “distributed” or “logically decentralized” design. IPFS consists of a network of nodes, which help each other find data using a content hash via a Distributed Hash Table (DHT). The result is that all nodes help find and serve web sites, and even if the original provider of the site goes down, you can still load it as long as one other computer in the network has a copy of it. The web becomes empowered by individuals, rather than depending on the large organizations that can afford to build large content delivery networks and serve a lot of traffic.

      • Data Science is Hard: Counting Users

        These cars all count if you’re interested in usage. It’s all well and good to know the number of cars using your parking lot right now… but is it lower on weekends? Holidays? Are you measuring on a rainy day when fewer people take bicycles, or in the Summer when more people are on vacation? Do you need better signs or more amenities to get more drivers to stop? Are you going to have expand capacity this year, or next?

        Yesterday we released the Firefox Public Data Report. Go take a look! It is the culmination of months of work of many mozillians (not me, I only contributed some early bug reports). In it you can find out how many users Firefox has, the most popular addons, and how quickly Firefox users update to the latest version. And you can choose whether to look at how these plots look for the worldwide user base or for one of the top ten (by number of Firefox users) countries individually.

        It’s really cool.

        The first two plots are a little strange, though. They count the number of Firefox users over time… and they don’t agree. They don’t even come close!

      • On leaving Mozilla

        I didn’t want to write one of those “all@” goodbye emails. At best, they generate ambivalence, maybe some sadness. And maybe they generate clutter in the inboxes of people who prefer to their inboxes uncluttered. The point is, they don’t seem to improve things. I’m not sending one.

        But I have taken the decision to leave Mozilla as a full-time employee. I’m leaving the industry, in fact. For the last 10 years, for everything I’ve learned, for the many opportunities and for the shared achievements, I’ve got nothing but gratitude towards my friends and colleagues. I cannot imagine I’ll work anywhere quite like this again.

        Long before I joined Mozilla, it was the organisation that had restored my optimism about the future of tech. From the dark days of the dot-com crash and the failure of platform-independent client-side internet applications to live up to their initial promise (I’m looking at you, Java applets), Firefox showed the world that openness wins. Working here was always more than a job. It has been a privilege.

      • These Weeks in Firefox: Issue 44
      • Siggen (Socorro signature generator) v0.2.0 released!

        Siggen (sig-gen) is a Socorro-style signature generator extracted from Socorro and packaged with pretty bows and wrapping paper in a Python library. Siggen generates Socorro-style signatures from your crash data making it easier for you to bucket your crash data using the same buckets that Socorro uses.

      • Standup report: End of days

        Standup is a system for capturing standup-style posts from individuals making it easier to see what’s going on for teams and projects. It has an associated IRC bot standups for posting messages from IRC.

  • Databases
    • Lab Notes: How We Made Joins 23 Thousand Times Faster, Part Three

      This post is the final part of a three-part miniseries that looks at how we improved join performance in the CrateDB 3.0 release.

      In part one of this miniseries, I went over the reasons we chose to implement the hash join algorithm as an alternative to the nested loop algorithm. With that initial set of changes in place, we were able to make joins up to two thousand times faster.

      In part two, I explained how we addressed the memory limitations of the basic hash join algorithm with a switch to block-based processing. That is, dividing a large dataset up into smaller blocks that can be worked on separately. This change improved our performance gains by another 50%.

      This brings us to the final set of changes.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • Friday Hack Chat: GNU RadioFriday Hack Chat: GNU Radio

      Our guests for this week’s Hack Chat will be Derek Kozel and Nate Temple, officers of the GNU Radio project. They’re also organizers of this year’s GNU Radio Conference. Also joining in on the Hack Chat will be Martin Braun, community manager, PyBOMBS maintainer, and GNU Radio Foundation officer.

    • bison-3.1 released
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Video: A Different Linus talks about an Open CPU

        We have had a few discussions about the RISC-V development (at the BozemanLUG meetings). Some Fedora folks have gotten Linux working on some of the RISC-V development boards. There appear to be several layers to the overall design from the low-end moving up. Can RISC-V ever become a viable, mainstream alternative? Time will tell… but at the very least, seeing such developments gives me some hope. Here’s a somewhat mainstream “youtuber” talking about RISC-V and given the number of views so far, maybe the word / information will break through.

      • Essential should open source its accessories platform

        With all these shortcomings, the company has struggled under the father of Android, Andy Rubin. Sales estimations of the PH-1 have come in well below 200,000 units. Subsequently, the rumors have been rampant that the company is up for sale to get out from under its debts. Another struggle has been its proprietary accessory system. That’s the topic I’d like to take on in this post. Essential should open source its plans for mods.

      • 3D-Printed Firearms Are Blowing Up

        If you follow 3D printing at all, and even if you don’t, you’ve likely seen some of the recent controversy surrounding Defense Distributed and its 3D-printed firearm designs. If you haven’t, here’s a brief summary: Defense Distributed has created 3D firearm models and initially published them for free on its DEFCAD website a number of years ago. Some of those 3D models were designed to be printed with a traditional home hobbyist 3D printer (at least in theory), and other designs were for Defense Distributed’s “Ghost Gunner”—a computer-controlled CNC mill aimed at milling firearm parts out of metal stock. The controversy that ensued was tied up in the general public debate about firearms, but in particular, a few models got the most attention: a model of an AR-15 lower receiver (the part of the rifle that carries the serial number) and “the Liberator”, which was a fully 3D-printed handgun designed to fire a single bullet. The end result was that the DEFCAD site was forced to go offline (but as with all website take-downs, it was mirrored a million times first), and Defense Distributed has since been fighting the order in court.

        The political issues raised in this debate are complicated, controversial and have very little to do with Linux outside the “information wants to be free” ethos in the community, so I leave those debates for the many other articles on this issue that already have been published. Instead, in this article, I want to use my background as a hobbyist 3D printer and combine it with my background in security to build a basic risk assessment that cuts through a lot of the hype and political arguments on all sides. I want to consider the real, practical risks with the 3D models and the current Ghost Gunner CNC mill that Defense Distributed provides today. I focus my risk assessment on three main items: the 3D-printed AR-15 lower receiver, the Liberator 3D-printed handgun and the Ghost Gunner CNC mill.

  • Programming/Development
    • HHVM 3.28.0

      HHVM 3.28 is released! This release contains new language features, bugfixes, performance improvements, and improvements to the debugger and editor/IDE support.

    • Mozilla’s Firefox Nightly Experiment Results, EFF’s Back to School Tips, HHVM 3.28 Released, Oracle Solaris 11.4 Now Available and Dropbox Vulnerability Discovered

      HHVM 3.28 was released yesterday. This new release of the open-source virtual machine for executing programs written in Hack and PHP “contains new language features, bugfixes, performance improvements, and improvements to the debugger and editor/IDE support.”

    • HHVM 3.28 Released With More Performance Improvements, Language Features

      Facebook developers maintaining the HHVM interpreter for running PHP and Hack code have announced the HHVM 3.28.0 update.

      HHVM 3.28 continues their theme of introducing minor language additions, various performance improvements, better debugging support, and different bug-fixes.

    • MIT Releases A Free and Open Source Computer Programming Language to the Public

      The MIT-developed programming language, Julia 1.0 has been officially released to the public. Julia has been in development by MIT for almost a decade and made its official public debut during JuliaCon, an annual conference of Julia users.

      Julia 1.0 is a free open source programming language available worldwide. “Julia has been revolutionizing scientific and technical computing since 2009,” says MIT Professor Alan Edelman.

    • rlife : a cellular automata library written in Rust

      So rlife is a life library written in Rust. It aims at allowing to do manipulations on cellular automata, like computing the next generation of a CA, loading/saving a CA from/to a file, do various analysis on it (like locating the coordinates of a pattern, counting the number of living cells) and other manipulations. The main object of this library is the Gridthat represents the grid of the CA and it also stores all its properties (the file format used, the rulesets, the current size of the grid, etc…). This library could allow some developers to use CAs with a high level of abstraction and have the possibility to do many (in the future…) operations on it.

    • cmocka version 1.1.2 released

      I’m happy to announce version 1.1.2 of cmocka, a unit testing framework for C with mocking support.

  • Hardware
    • Working Apple-1 computer could sell for price of a supercar

      Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak produced about 200 Apple-1 computers in the mid-1970s and around 60 of those are known to still exist today. Every so often one pops up at auction and manages to sell for a price that could easily purchase a home in most locations.

    • For Sale: 1976 Apple 1. Still Works, Asking $300,000 OBO

      An original Apple 1, hand-built by Steve Wozniak in 1976, is up for auction in September. It’s expected to sell for $300,000 or more.

      Steve Jobs and Wozniak only made 200 Apple 1 devices, making this an extremely rare piece of computer history. It was one of the first home computers that didn’t require soldering.

  • Security
    • Security updates for Wednesday
    • Password managers: Please make sure AutoFill is secure!

      Dear developers of password managers, we communicate quite regularly, typically within the context of security bug bounty programs. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being paid for finding vulnerabilities in your products. But shouldn’t you do your homework before setting up a bug bounty program? Why is it the same basic mistakes that I find in almost all password managers? Why is it that so few password managers get AutoFill functionality right?

      Of course you want AutoFill to be part of your product, because from the user’s point of view it’s the single most important feature of a password manager. Take it away and users will consider your product unusable. But from the security point of view, filling in passwords on the wrong website is almost the worst thing that could happen. So why isn’t this part getting more scrutiny? There is a lot you can do, here are seven recommendations for you.

    • Kali Linux’s New Version 2018.3, Open-Source License War, Lenovo Announces Five New Android Tablets, Google Releases Open-Source Reinforcement Learning Framework and KD Chart Update

      Kali Linux recently announced its third release of 2018. Version 2018.3 features several new tools: idb, an iOS research/penetration-testing tool; gdb-peda, Python Exploit Development Assistance for GDB; datasploit, OSINT Framework to perform various recon techniques; and kerberoast, Kerberos assessment tools. See the Change Log for more information on all the changes, and download Kali from here.

    • The Difference Between Sandboxing, Honeypots & Security Deception

      A deep dive into the unique requirements and ideal use cases of three important prevention and analysis technologies.

      Networks, cyberattacks, and the strategies used to stop them are continuously evolving. Security deception is an emerging cyber-defense tactic that allows researchers and information security professionals to observe the behavior of attackers once they’ve gained access to what they think is a business network.

      The term “security deception” only came into wide usage in the last year, so it can be difficult to tell how exactly these solutions are different from other tools that try to trick attackers, such as sandboxing and honeypots. Like these other tactics, security deception fools attackers and malicious applications into revealing themselves so that researchers can devise effective defenses against them, but it relies more on automation and scale, and requires less expertise to set up and manage. Each of these technologies has unique requirements and ideal use cases. To understand what those are, we’ll need to look at each of them in more detail.

    • Windows Task Scheduler Zero-Day Exposed; No Patch Available

      A zero-day flaw has been revealed by a Twitter user SandboxEscaper, for the Windows Task Scheduler in 64-bit Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 systems. Apparently, this vulnerability is out in the wild, and there are no known patches or specific workarounds at present.

      US-CERT has confirmed that the exploit works on 64-bit Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 systems and is rooted in the Windows task scheduler.

    • Task Scheduler ALPC exploit high level analysis

      Yesterday SandboxEscaper tweeted an local privilege escalation exploit for Windows, which currently has no patch. It’s a really neat flaw, in particular how it is exploited.

    • OpenSSH Versions Since 2011 Vulnerable to Oracle Attack [Ed: Bleeping Computer is not a security news site but alarmist site that hypes up pretty ordinary bugs; Catalin is a lot worse]

      Security researchers from Qualys discovered a new username enumeration problem in the latest version of OpenSSH. It allows an attacker to try out various usernames on the server and determine which ones are valid. The vulnerability received tracking number CVE-2018-15919.

    • ATtention Spanned: Comprehensive Vulnerability Analysis of AT Commands Within the Android Ecosystem

      AT commands, originally designed in the early 80s for controlling modems, are still in use in most modern smartphones to support telephony functions. The role of AT commands in these devices has vastly expanded through vendor-specific customizations, yet the extent of their functionality is unclear and poorly documented. In this paper, we systematically retrieve and extract 3,500 AT commands from over 2,000 Android smartphone firmware images across 11 vendors. We methodically test our corpus of AT commands against eight Android devices from four different vendors through their USB interface and characterize the powerful functionality exposed, including the ability to rewrite device firmware, bypass Android security mechanisms, exfiltrate sensitive device information, perform screen unlocks, and inject touch events solely through the use of AT commands. We demonstrate that the AT command interface contains an alarming amount of unconstrained functionality and represents a broad attack surface on Android devices.

    • How These Android Smartphone Can Be Hacked With Simple AT commands

      According to a research, millions of Android devices from 11 OEMs are vulnerable to attacks from simple AT commands.

      These AT commands or Attention commands are a short collection of strings which were designed to transmit via phone line and modems, back in the 1980s. Earlier, these commands were used for a modem dial-up, hang up, and change specific connection settings.

    • Slackware Releases L1TF Mitigation Updates for v14.2

      The Slackware Linux Project team has just released kernel updates for its Slackware version 14.2 which was initially released on the first of July this year. According to the advisory released with the updates, the new kernel packages made available are specifically drafted to mitigate several imminent and emerging security concerns in the operating system.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Ex-CIA officer responded to reports of informants in Russia

      The American intelligence service, which claimed to have informants in Russia was bluffing, RIA “Novosti” the statement of former CIA officer, Executive Director of the American Council for the national interest Philip Giraldi.

      “Senior intelligence officials never so simple and openly admit that they have sources rank high in the Kremlin,” said Giraldi.

    • Using the CIA to Extricate Us From Endless Cycle of Wars

      War in the Middle East is every U.S. president’s own ice cream challenge. It seems as if they all declare at the outset of their term that they want to focus on a domestic agenda to grow economic prosperity at home. Americans and much of the world breathe a sigh of relief over the idea of break from war. Unfortunately, it never pans out because some kind of pretext for re-engagement inevitably materializes.

      But what if an American president decided that even if the freezer conked out, melting all the ice cream, he still wasn’t going to rationalize the need to touch it?

      No recent president has been able to do that. Instead, the melted ice cream — now basically a milkshake — beckons to them. Suddenly, they’re having nightmares about another country stealing and drinking their disgustingly warm milkshake, so they raid the broken freezer and gorge themselves.

      Soon they discover that they’re in too deep and will never purge all those calories at the gym, so they double down by camping out in case more freezer items just happen to end up defrosting. Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province didn’t come about much differently than Camp Busted Freezer.

    • WaPo Uses Photo of John McCain Next to Nazi to Praise His ‘Human Rights’ Work

      The Washington Post (8/27/18) published an op-ed by conservative staff opinion columnist Jennifer Rubin praising the late Sen. John McCain for his supposed commitment to “human rights.”

      Rubin waxed poetic on the ostensible “lost champion” of human rights, who “model[ed] for others the behavior of a free society.” She declared, quite paradoxically, “With the possible exception of the US military…no group was more indebted to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) than the human rights community.”

      There was an, er, optical problem, however: For the header image on this column, the Washington Post used a photo of McCain speaking next to the notorious Ukrainian neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok.

      Tyahnybok, a longtime fascist, has called for a war on the so-called “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” (BBC, 12/26/12). The far-right leader has attacked the role of “Jews-Bolsheviks” in his country’s history, and claims that there is still today a cabal of “Jewish oligarchs who control Ukraine” (JTA, 3/25/09).

      John McCain met with Tyahnybok and stood next to him as the senator gave a speech in Ukraine in late 2013, as Business Insider (12/16/13) reported at the time. The Washington Post indicated in the caption on its header image that McCain was “wav[ing] to protesters during a mass rally of the opposition in Kiev, Ukraine, on December 15, 2013.” But it failed to identify the man standing next to the Arizona senator—or his extremist politics, which are the antithesis of human rights.

      McCain was in the Eastern European nation—along with Democratic Senator Chris Murphy — to cheer on the ongoing right-wing protest movement. In February 2014, this movement was successful: Ukraine’s democratically elected, pro-Russian government was overthrown in a coup, in which fascist forces played a significant role (, 3/7/14).


      Tyahnybok is far from a minor player in Ukraine. And since the US-backed coup, he has become increasingly influential.

      Tyahnybok has been the leader of the fascist, ultra-nationalist Ukrainian political party Svoboda since its founding in 2004. Svoboda has its origins in the explicitly neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine, which proclaimed, “We are the last hope of the white race, of humankind as such.”

    • Flordia AG Somehow Pivots To The Danger Of Video Games After The Latest Florida Shooting

      There is a long tradition in conservative politics for blaming video games whenever a mass shooting is carried out by a relatively young person. It’s a monumentally stupid argument, given the complicated and twisted nature of mass shootings and the motivations behind them. But, since policy and politics are now offered merely in soundbite formats, the end result of a mass shooting is for every person to retreat to their familiar corners and make lots of noises that ultimately accomplish nothing but stagnation.

      The mass shooting that happened in Florida recently could have been a different story. While it indeed happened at a video game tournament, the gamers involved were playing Madden, not some violent shoot ‘em up. If playing a football video game makes people angry enough to shoot people, just wait until those decrying video game violence turn on their TVs on Sunday and realize that there are actual people playing the same game for real. There was no indication anywhere that this shooting was carried out by anything other than an individual that likely had some severe mental problems and access to weapons. And, yet, somehow Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi addressed this latest shooting by pivoting directly to the dangers of kids playing video games and the predators that will harm them.

    • Florida’s Attorney General Finds Baffling New Way to Blame Jacksonville Shooting on Video Games

      After a mass shooting, pro-gun activists often reach for ways to explain how it could have happened yet again that isn’t “there too many people have guns and they’re too easy to get.” This weekend’s shooting in Jacksonville, FL, at a Madden video game tournament has proved to be no exception, with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supplying the obvious alternate explanation—it’s about video games—but with a fascinating twist.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Nuclear Safety Board Slams Energy Department Plan to Weaken Oversight

      A new Department of Energy order that could be used to withhold information from a federal nuclear safety board and prevent the board from overseeing worker safety at nuclear facilities appears to violate longstanding provisions in the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, the board’s members said Tuesday.

      Members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, both Democrats and Republicans, were united in their criticism of the Energy Department’s order, published in mid-May. It prevents the board from accessing sensitive information, imposes additional legal hurdles on board staff, and mandates that Energy Department officials speak “with one voice” when communicating with the board.

      The Santa Fe New Mexican and ProPublica first reported on the order’s existence in July but the board called for a special hearing, saying its members had no formal input before the document was finalized.

      At that hearing in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning, the first of three on the topic, officials from the Energy Department and its National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nation’s nuclear stockpile, said the changes were largely innocuous and were necessary to update a 17-year-old guidance manual.

  • Finance
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook has removed all cross-posted tweets

      Facebook users are complaining the company has removed the cross-posted tweets they had published to their profiles as Facebook updates. The posts’ removal took place following the recent API change that prevented Twitter users from continuing to automatically publish their tweets to Facebook. According to the affected parties, both the Facebook posts themselves, as well as the conversation around those posts that had taken place directly on Facebook, are now gone. Reached for comment, Facebook says it’s aware of the issue and is looking into it.

    • Facebook is deleting timeline posts that users cross-published from Twitter

      The changes went into effect starting August 1st. But it now appears that not only did Facebook disable the ability to use cross-posting between Twitter and its own social network on that date, but it also forcibly removed all the posts users had made using that feature. For users that may have been deleting their tweets but keeping a repository of the information on Facebook, where it’s more easily kept hidden from the public, it would seem the posts are gone for good.

    • Punjab’s proposed amendment to blasphemy law Section 295 AA: Amarinder’s move arms religious fanatics against free speech


      The proposed law inserts Section 295AA to the IPC to provide: “whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Geeta, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punished with imprisonment for life.” For the past few centuries, there has been a movement of ideas worldwide to separate religion from the state. Chief Minister Amarinder is seeking to revert this process of enlightenment.


      In India, there has been a long tradition of free speech, which is now under attack from a range of forces who have roots in religion and institutions of the government in India. In 2017, a group of University of Lucknow students, including girls, spent three weeks in jail for showing black flags to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Indian youths are being imprisonment for posting political comments on Facebook and other social media. This is an attack on our democratic tenets.

    • Microsoft’s president explains how the Gab shutdown notice went from customer support to his desk

      In a wide-ranging interview on The Vergecast this week, Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith expanded on why the company nearly shut down, the “free-speech” absolutist platform that’s become an alt-right favorite.

      Earlier this month, Microsoft sent a notice to Gab threatening to end the company’s Azure cloud service if it did not remove two anti-Semitic hate speech posts within 48 hours. The notice, which Gab said would cause the social network to “go down for weeks/months,” sent the social network’s operators into a frenzy. But Smith said Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, was asleep when the notice was sent.


      The posts, which advocated for genocidal violence against Jewish people, were removed by the poster before Microsoft’s takedown deadline. “Whoever made that call while we were sleeping made the right call,” Smith said.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • WhatsApp Data Backed Up On Google Drive Won’t Be Encrypted

      WhatsApp had recently announced that Android users will be able to store their chats on Google Drive starting from November 12, 2018.

      Those backups won’t be counted towards Google Drive’s storage quota. But WhatsApp has warned that the free backup service offered by Google will no longer be protected with end-to-end encryption.

    • Appeals Court Asks the Right Questions in NSA Surveillance Case

      On Monday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York held argument in United States v. Hasbajrami, an important case involving surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. It is only the second time a federal appeals court has been asked to rule on whether the government can collect countless numbers of electronic communications—including those of Americans—and use these communications in criminal investigations, all without a warrant. In a lengthy and engaged argument [.mp3], a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit heard from lawyers for the United States and the defendant Agron Hasbajrami, as well as from ACLU attorney Patrick Toomey representing ACLU and EFF, which filed a joint amicus brief in support of the defendant. As we explained to the court in our amicus brief and at the argument, this surveillance violates Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights on a massive scale.

      Hasbajrami is a U.S. resident who was arrested at JFK airport in 2011 on his way to Pakistan and charged with providing material support to terrorists. Only after his conviction did the government explain that its case was premised in part on emails between Hasbajrami and an unnamed “Individual #1”—a foreigner associated with terrorist groups—obtained using PRISM, one of the government’s Section 702 programs.

      Under Section 702, the government is authorized to warrantlessly intercept private online communications of foreigners located outside the U.S., an authority that the government claims extends to conversations between foreigners and Americans, so long as it doesn’t intentionally target specific Americans.

    • German antitrust watchdog plans action on Facebook this year

      The Federal Cartel Office objects in particular to how Facebook acquires data on people from third-party apps – including its own WhatsApp and Instagram services – and its online tracking of people who aren’t even members.

    • ‘Digital shackles’: the unexpected cruelty of ankle monitors

      Birts pays $30 per day – that’s $840 per month – for the privilege of wearing the bulky device. It sucks up all his income, leaving him homeless and sleeping in his Ford Escape in Oakland.


      Edwards is using the legal system to fight back. He is part of a class-action lawsuit against LCA and Alameda county, filed in early August, which accuses the county of allowing a private company to make profit-driven decisions about people’s freedoms, denying them due process. It accuses LCA of extorting fees from people through the threat of incarceration, in violation of federal racketeering laws.

    • Indiana Appeals Court Says Forcing Someone To Unlock Their Phone Violates The 5th Amendment

      Passwords and PINs still beat fingerprints when it comes to the Fifth Amendment. But just barely. Nothing about the issue is settled, but far more cases have been handed down declaring fingerprints to be non-testimonial. Fingerprints are obtained during the booking process — a physical, traceable representation of the suspect. If they can be obtained during booking, they can certainly be obtained again to unlock a device. A physical aspect of a human being can’t be considered “testimonial” as far as courts have interpreted the Fifth Amendment.

      Passwords are a different story, but not by much. In a handful of cases, courts have said the compelled production of passwords and PINs has no Fifth Amendment implications. Defendants, conversely, have argued compelled password production forces them to testify against themselves by facilitating the production of evidence to be used against them.

      This argument hasn’t had much success. Judges have frequently found password production to be just as non-testimonial as a person’s fingerprint. The argument here is that all law enforcement wants is a password, not the production of evidence. Under the “foregone conclusion” theory, all the government has to prove is that the person being asked to unlock a device can unlock the device.

      This decouples password production from its consequences: the production of evidence by defendants that the government will use against them in court. When this theory is applied, the Fifth Amendment is sidelined and replaced with the ultra-low bar of foregone conclusion.

    • WhatsApp is storing unencrypted backup data on Google Drive

      However, the company has now confirmed that the act of encrypting the data between WhatsApp and Google is not part of the end-to-end encryption that the company offers for its conversations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Facebook fugitive fights U.S. request to extradite him from Ecuador: lawyer

      The criminal case arose from Ceglia’s conduct related to a2010 civil lawsuit he had filed against Zuckerberg.

      Ceglia claimed that Zuckerberg had, while a student at Harvard University, signed a 2003 contract giving him half of a planned social networking website that later became Facebook.

    • Alleged Facebook scammer arrested in Ecuador, will resist extradition

      In a new court filing submitted last week, federal prosecutors said that a criminal defendant accused of attempting to extort Facebook itself has now been arrested in Ecuador.


      That man, Paul Ceglia, has been a fugitive since 2015. At that time, he cut off his ankle monitor and fled with his wife, kids, and dog. The American government is now trying to extradite Ceglia.

    • Tech Titans Dish Advice About Phone Addiction

      Your phone is training you to be its servant. Here’s how to fight back.

    • FrOSCon 2018

      In her keynote “Blessed by the algorithm – the computer says no!” Lorena detailed the intersection of ethics and technology when it comes to automated decision making systems. As much as humans with a technical training shy away from questions related to ethics, humans trained in ethics often shy away from topics that involve a technical layer. However as technology becomes more and more ingrained in everyday life we need people who understand both – tech and ethical questions.

      Lorena started her talk detailing how one typical property of human decision making involves inconsistency, otherwise known as noise: Where machine made decisions can be either accurate and consistent or biased and consistent, human decisions are either inconsistent but more or less accurate or inconsistent and biased. Experiments that showed this level of inconsistency are plenty, ranging from time estimates for tasks being different depending on weather, mood, time of day, being hungry or not up to judges being influenced by similar factors in court.

    • Check Out My Presentation “How To Win A Grassroots Media Rebellion“ At The Ron Paul Institute Conference

      Here’s a speech I gave for the Ron Paul Institute Peace and Prosperity Conference titled “How To Win A Grassroots Media Rebellion“. The audio feed for this recording doesn’t pick up the audience, so when you see me pausing with a delighted look on my face it’s because people are applauding, not because I’m having a stroke.

    • Fact-Checking The Prison Strike: Marshall Project Reveals Bias Against Prisoner-Led Resistance

      One of the primary differences between this year’s prison strike for basic human rights and dignity and the one that took place in 2016 is the level of media attention it has attracted.

      Far more journalists are paying attention this year, but rather than examine the message of the strike seriously, several outlets—especially those claiming to specialize in these issues—are more concerned with interrogating the messengers. It is as if the prison strike might be a stunt by conniving prisoners and backed by clueless activists—both which want to see their names splashed all over the internet.

      A quintessential example of this came from the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that was founded by former hedge fund manager Neil Barsky in 2014. The organization prides itself on being a credible and reliable source of information on everything from prisons to police and the courts. According to their website, they “[seek] to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.”

      The Marshall Project managed to get out in front of other mainstream reporting on the prison strike, establishing themselves as an expert source for interviews and insights on the action. Reporting fellow, Nicole Lewis, was invited on popular national media platforms to discuss her piece, “What’s Really Happening With The Prison Strike?”

      But Lewis’s article is littered with prejudice and innuendo that casts doubt on the legitimacy and trustworthiness of strikers and their outside supporters. It includes the perspectives of activists, but plays into biases against incarcerated people by suggesting they might not be telling the truth about their struggle for human rights.

      The article from the Marshall Project appears to be a fact check of the prison strike. “Some outlets simply reported unchecked information put out by the outside strike organizers,” Lewis writes, without naming any particular outlets. But the only “unchecked information” Lewis seems to highlight is the number of prisons participating.

      Lewis clearly believes organizers are exaggerating the extent of the strike. Yet, by focusing on this aspect, she ignores the demands and the conditions that fueled the latest round of resistance.

    • On National Security, Kavanaugh Has a History of Extreme Deference to the President

      Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court has a record of extreme deference to the executive on national security cases, including unlawful detention.

      A week before his confirmation hearing, the public record on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s possible involvement in some of the Bush administration’s most abusive policies and programs is woefully incomplete.

      Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, served in the White House soon after 9/11 when the Bush administration launched many of its most infamous programs in the name of national security. Leading senators have said that, during his 2006 confirmation hearing for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh may have provided misleading or inaccurate information about his involvement in developing those policies. Senators have rightly called for access to and public release of all documents from his White House stint, so we know any role he might have played in developing or reviewing the Bush administration’s torture, detention, and surveillance programs.

      But despite these holes, Kavanaugh does have a well-developed record in cases involving national security, civil liberties, and human rights from his time on the D.C. Circuit. That record shows extreme deference to presidential claims to act unchecked in the name of war or national security. It also demonstrates hostility to international law as a constraint on government action as well as an unwillingness to hold the government to account when it violates the constitutional and human rights of U.S. citizens and noncitizens.

    • Amazon Pays Employees To Chirp Happily On Twitter About Wonderful Working Conditions

      For several years now, there have been a parade of articles examining the “churn and burn” culture at Amazon. For example a 2015 New York Times piece profiled the “bruising” culture at the company while noting that employees weeping at their desk was not an uncommon sight. And while the profile was contested by some employees at the company, a substantial number of different reports have also highlighted the poor working conditions in Amazon distribution warehouses, including employees having to pee in garbage cans for fear of missing targets by going to a proper restroom.

      Hoping to correct the “public perception” of poor working conditions at the company’s warehouses, Amazon executives have crafted a new “solution” to the problem. They’ve started paying some warehouse employees to create Twitter accounts and speak positively of not only their working experiences, but CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • To protect big telcos, Zambia wants to tax calls made over social media apps

      The new tariff, announced last week, will be collected through mobile phone companies and [I]nternet service providers. The fee will be charged at a daily rate at 30 ngwee (3c) per day, irrespective of how many [I]nternet calls are made, explained minister of information and broadcasting Dora Siliya.

    • Zambia to tax internet calls to protect telecoms firms

      Internet has become important for civil society in Zambia, and activists worry the tax will curtail freedom of expression.


      “We have noted that it’s part of the systematic attempt by the state to stifle freedom of expression online. This is an assault to freedom of expression and association,” said Richard Mulonga, head of the online rights group Bloggers of Zambia.

    • Big Telecom Is Using Robocalls to Fight a Net Neutrality Bill in California

      CJAC’s robocalls ares not the only campaign spreading scary claims about soaring cell phone bills: ads on Facebook and Twitter, as well as physical flyers opposing the net neutrality bill and paid for by AT&T-backed advocacy group CALInnovates have been reported across California.

    • Big Telecom Resorts To Lying To Senior Citizens To Scuttle Net Neutrality In California

      With the bipartisan majority of Americans supporting net neutrality, the broadband industry often has to resort to outright falsehoods to try and make its case that we don’t need net neutrality rules (or any meaningful oversight of natural telecom monopolies). From paying civil rights groups to parrot industry positions to hiring fake journalists to deny the obvious, the broadband industry has a long, proud, multi-decade history of using outright bullshit to scare the public, press and regulators away from the idea of net neutrality.

      The latest case in point: after AT&T lobbyists successfully sabotaged initial efforts to pass new net neutrality rules in California, the state this week revisited the effort with a new vote on the state assembly floor. In a bid to try and scuttle the effort, an AT&T-linked group by the name of Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) has been robocalling senior citizens in the state, informing them that their cell phone bill will jump $30 if the new rules pass.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Data Driven Creativity

      My broader point, then, is that how we consider the effect of data driven works will depend a lot on how we view creativity.


      To be clear, Raustiala and Sprigman don’t say anything that contradicts my intuitions here. They make clear that creativity is on a continuum, and that data merely slides to one side. But they do question how viewers will perceive works, and it is there that I disagree with them. I suppose that we could hit that limit where everything is automated, but my gut says that despite having preferences for particular story aspects, viewers will always be able to separate the wheat from the chaff (though not the way I would – as just about every American Idol vote shows) and thus will always look for something new and different within their preferences. At least, I sure hope so.

    • Trademarks
      • Mexico expands trade mark protection

        Mexico’s industrial property law has been amended to include more types of trade marks. It also introduces some small changes that bring Mexico’s trade mark system more in line with the US and beyond

    • Copyrights
      • Danish ISPs Get Win That Could End Copyright Trolling In Denmark

        We have talked in recent years how the scourge of copyright trolling has hit the nation of Denmark particularly hard. While trolling operations started off about the same as they do elsewhere in the world, their requests to unmask ISP customers soon ramped up to enormous levels. It was enough to turn two ISP rivals into allies, with Telenor and Telia fighting in court for their respective customers’ privacy rights. After an initial loss, the companies appealed up the legal chain and managed to get a win with the court siding with the ISPs’ privacy concerns over the copyright trolls’ nefarious business model. After that, one of the copyright trolls appealed to Denmark’s Supreme Court, hoping to reverse the decision once again.

      • Significant Concerns About The New NAFTA Agreement’s Impact On Innovation And The Internet

        Earlier this week, we wrote about how the USTR itself appeared to be totally confused about its own NAFTA-replacement agreement with Mexico in the “Intellectual Property” section, in that it was reporting that the agreement included copyright in some works for “75 years” in places and “life + 75 years” in other places, and acted as though they were the same thing. The USTR seemed legitimately confused over this issue, which did not give people much confidence that it knew what it was doing in these negotiations on the intellectual property questions. However, since that issue appeared to be one of pure confusion, which should be easily fixed in the final text, we should put our attention more towards the actual problems with what the USTR appears to be doing here.

        We don’t yet have the full text — though that should be available soon — but from the USTR’s fact sheet there are many reasons to be concerned that this agreement is a massive handout to Hollywood and patent trolls, and against innovation.

      • IP Address is Not Enough to Identify Pirate, US Court of Appeals Rules

        The owner of an adult foster care home who operated an open WiFi network has booked a big win against a copyright troll. Thomas Gonzales was accused of downloading the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler but won $17k last year after being wrongfully targeted. The case went to appeal and in a ruling handed down yesterday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gonzales emerged victorious again.

      • Important Appeals Court Ruling States Clearly That Merely Having An IP Address Is Insufficient For Infringement Claims

        The case involved well known copyright trolling lawyer Carl Crowell representing Cobbler Nevada LLC. As we discussed in our article on the district court decision, the actions in this case were particularly nefarious. Crowell quickly learned that the IP address in question belonged to an adult foster care home, but decided to go after the operator, Thomas Gonzales, even though he was aware that any of the many residents or staff may have actually been responsible for the infringement. Gonzales (reasonably) refused to just cough up the names and details of residents and staff without a court order, and Crowell’s response was just to go after Gonzales directly. But the facts of this case made it especially easy for the lower court to highlight how a mere IP address is not nearly enough to allege infringement.

      • No do-overs! Appeals court won’t hear $8.8bn Oracle v Google rehash

        Over eight years of feuding between Oracle and Google over the use of Java code in Android may be nearing its end following a Tuesday court ruling.

        The US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has declined [PDF] to re-hear the case in which it found Google to be in violation of Oracle’s copyright on Android API code. The Chocolate Factory faces a demand from Oracle for $8.8bn in damages.

        Tuesday’s ruling means that the only remaining hope for Google to avoid a massive payout to Oracle is a hearing and decision from the US Supreme Court, something Google said it will pursue after today’s verdict.

        “We are disappointed that the Federal Circuit overturned the jury finding that Java is open and free for everyone,” Google told The Register.

      • Federal Circuit denies Oracle v Google en banc rehearing

        Google has already said it will appeal to the Supreme Court in the latest development in the dispute over unauthorised use of 37 packages of Oracle’s Java application programming interface

      • A Link Tax Won’t Bring Back Journalists; It Will Do Even More Harm To Them

        While most of the attention on the upcoming votes around the EU Copyright Directive is on the mandatory filters found in Article 13, we should be just as concerned about the link tax in Article 11. European publishers have been flat out lying about the proposal, which is little more than an attempt to just demand cash from Google and Facebook.

        We’ve already explained why this is a bad idea. And it’s not a theoretical issue either. This very same proposal has been tried in Germany and Spain and it failed miserably in both places, to the point of doing serious damage to traffic to news sites, without increasing revenue.

        Unfortunately, it appears that at least some journalists don’t want to hear about the facts. AFP’s Baghdad Bureau Chief, Sammy Ketz has pieces in the Guardian and La Stampa (and possibly elsewhere) making an impassioned — if somewhat confused — plea in support of Article 11.

        The reasoning is fuzzy, because there is no legitimate basis for Article 11, but Ketz basically says “there are fewer reporters these days, because news orgs are failing, but Google and Facebook have lots of money, so Article 11 is important, because they’ll give us money.” Really.

Links 29/8/2018: Solaris 11.4, More Intel Issues

Wednesday 29th of August 2018 11:28:35 AM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
    • 10 Reasons To Replace Windows With Linux

      A lot of people run Windows on their laptop and desktop computers and quite often the reason for that is because it was already installed when they bought the machine.

      What is interesting though is that if you give people a better option then there is every chance they will switch to something else.

      If you don’t believe me look at the rise of Google Chrome. Internet Explorer used to dominate the browser market share but now Chrome controls over 60% compared to Internet Explorer which has under 10%.

      Linux is better than Windows, especially for home use and in this guide I will provide 10 reasons why.

  • Kernel Space
    • The world’s largest open source project, Linux, turned 27

      27 years ago, on the 25th of August in 1991 to be exact, a student from University of Helsinki posted on a newsgroup seeking for feedback for what he called a hobby project.
      That is of course Linux, the hobby project started by Linus Torvals, that has since conquered the world. In the original post Linus was looking for feedback for fellow Minix users. He had been working on his replacement for Minix since April, and was ready to get it out there.

      It obviously still took a while before Linux was ready for a proper spotlight, but the cat was out of the bag.

    • Is the Linux 4.18 kernel heading your way?

      In case this URL isn’t familiar, is the web site of the organization that distributes the Linux kernel and other Open Source software to the public without charge. The site provides kernel archives where anyone can download source. And, yes, even you, can go and download source code for Linux.

      The latest stable version is currently 4.18.5. The site provides extensive and easily navigated directories that can shed as much light on the Linux kernel as you might care to absorb. That includes the ability to view individual files that represent portions of the code base or download past or current releases.

      If you go to, you will see options for downloading kernel tarballs, viewing the verification signatures for the tarballs, and investigating patches. If you have never considered the amount of code that comprises the Linux kernel or imagined how accessible it is, visiting the site and spending a little time wandering around might prove to be quite an exciting experience. Try drilling down to a single script as in this example picked at random and you’ll see how easy it is to probe into code that makes up the core of Linux.

    • Linux 4.4.153
    • Linux 3.18.120
    • Realtek USB3 Hubs Will See Firmware Updates Delivered On Linux Via Fwupd/LVFS

      Linux firmware updating is on a roll with the fwupd updating utility and the Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) for the distribution of these firmware files recently seeing AKiTiO Thunderbolt device support and NVMe SSD firmware updating being the next big task. Richard Hughes of Red Hat has also revealed he’s been working on USB3 hub firmware support in conjunction with Realtek.

    • Linux 4.19 lets you declare your trust in AMD, IBM and Intel

      Linux v4.19-rc1, release candidate code published on Sunday, allows those building their own kernel or Linux distribution to choose whether or not to trust the CPU hardware random number generator, a decision that has become complicated in the wake of the revelations about government surveillance over the past five years.

      When random number generation is insufficiently random, encryption based on such numbers can be broken with less effort. Among the security-minded, there’s concern that hardware makers might offer subpar randomization unknowingly, as a result of espionage, or to accommodate demands from government law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

      The paranoia wasn’t always so palpable. Back in 2013, Linus Torvalds, Lord of the Linux, dismissed calls to ditch Intel’s RDRAND processor instruction, noting that the Linux kernel uses multiple sources of input to generate random numbers.

    • Intel’s 13 Patches For SGX Linux Support See Their 13th Revision

      One of the features sadly not making it into the in-development Linux 4.19 kernel is the support for Intel’s SGX — the Software Guard Extensions.

      Intel Software Guard Extensions allow for allocating “enclaves” or private regions of memory for secure computing, DRM, and other purposes. SGX support was introduced to Intel CPUs with Skylake while the Linux support has remained a work-in-progress.

    • Bug in Linux 4.18 Kernel Causes CPU Stall and System Freezes on Older Hardware

      If ever you needed a good reason to upgrade your old CPU, it seems a “show-stopping” bug has found its way into the Linux 4.18 stable kernel series – though its only effecting older hardware, mostly the Intel Core 2 Duo era processors. This bug in Linux 4.18 kernel currently has two submitted bug reports on the bugzilla tracker.

    • Linux 4.18 Is Appearing To Cause Problems For Those Running Older CPUs

      As a P.S.A. for those tending to quickly upgrade to new major kernel releases but are doing so on older hardware, there appears to be a show-stopping bug that made it into the stable Linux 4.18 series.


      Those encountering this problem have bisected it to clocksource: Remove kthread as the problematic commit. If building the Linux 4.18 kernel with that commit reverted, those old CPUs begin to happily run on this latest stable kernel release. Another alternative to workaround this problem is booting with the kernel parameter of clocksource=hpet. Of course, if you are running on a system as old as the Core 2 Duo days (2006~2010), you can choose any number of older stable Linux LTS releases to boot your system until this situation is resolved upstream and back-ported to the 4.18 series.

    • Graphics Stack
      • NVIDIA 390.87 Linux Driver Backports That Important Performance Fix

        NVIDIA has today shipped the 390.87 Linux driver as their latest update to the 390 “long-lived” driver series

      • GPUOpen’s Vulkan Memory Allocator 2.1 Being Prepped With Many Additions

        AMD’s GPUOpen group has released their first beta of the Vulkan Memory Allocator 2.1 release after “many months of development” and as such comes with many new features.

        VulkanMemoryAllocator as a refresher is the open-source AMD effort to provide an easy-to-use and integrate Vulkan memory allocation library to ease the process of bringing up new Vulkan code. The VulkanMemoryAllocator is used by the likes of Google’s Filament renderer, vkDoom3, LWJGL, the Anvil framework, and others.

      • Mir’s EGMDE “Edge” Now Has Experimental X11 Support, Static Display Configuration

        Ubuntu’s Mir display server that has been chasing Wayland support and earlier this year introduced EGMDE as the example Mir desktop environment has picked up some extra functionality on its “edge” channel.

        Thanks to Ubuntu’s Snappy, via Snap it’s now possible to have both beta and edge channels of EGMDE with easy installation. Their edge channel of EGMDE will be where they ship their experimental/bleeding-edge features. In making use of this new functionality, to the EGMDE edge channel they have introduced some new capabilities.

      • More Vega 20 Enablement Heading To Linux 4.20~5.0, No Longer Marked Experimental

        While the Linux 4.19 kernel merge window just ended this past weekend and the development cycle for Linux 4.20 (or most likely to be called Linux 5.0) won’t kick off until around the middle of October, AMD has already begun staging a ton of changes for this next kernel version. In particular, it looks like with this next kernel release their Vega 20 enablement will be in order.

      • The DRM GPU Scheduler Got Beefed Up This Summer, More Improvements Possible

        In addition to the VKMS driver for virtual kernel mode-setting, the other successful Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project this summer under the X.Org umbrella was improving the DRM GPU scheduler.

        The DRM GPU scheduler is what was the AMDGPU scheduler before it was punted out into DRM common code so this GPU scheduler could be re-used by other Direct Rendering Manager drivers like Etnaviv and Linux-Lima. As part of GSoC 2018, Nayan Deshmukh worked on improvements to the DRM GPU scheduler with a particular focus on being able to feed one entity into multiple run queues.

      • wineSHOCK: The Automated Direct3D Game Benchmarks On Wine

        Given Valve’s now public Steam Play for Linux using the Wine-derived Proton and their ongoing relationship with Code Weavers to improve the experience for Windows games on Linux, it perhaps adds better context why this summer for GSoC there was the automated Direct3D game benchmarking work with mentorship by a CodeWeavers developer.

        This summer we’ve been covering the work by student developer Dimitris Gounaridis on better Direct3D game benchmarks within Wine. After all, this Google Summer of Code project is facilitated using the Phoronix Test Suite and

      • Vulkan VirGL Ends The Summer Being Able To Execute A Compute Shader

        One of the most interesting projects we’ve seen attempted for Google Summer of Code 2018 was adding Vulkan support to VirGL for allowing Vulkan access within guest virtual machines.

        The VirGL stack has been getting into great shape with its OpenGL 4 support while up until this summer there wasn’t much effort on getting the Vulkan graphics/compute API handled by this stack that leverages Mesa, VirtIO-GPU, and the “virglrenderer” component to make all of this magic happen.

    • Benchmarks
      • Benchmarks Of Intel’s Latest Linux Microcode Update

        With all of the confusion last week over Intel’s short-lived CPU microcode license change that forbid benchmarking only for them to change it a short time later — to a much nicer license in that the microcode files can be easily redistributed and don’t curtail it in other manners (and also re-licensing their FSP too), here are some performance benchmarks when trying out this latest Intel microcode on Linux.


        In the benchmarks run over the weekend, the latest Intel microcode files for August (taking Xeon Scalable CPUs to 0x200004d appeared to have only minimal impact on the system performance… Mostly in I/O cases were there some slight differences in performance, but nothing overly shocking and not as bad as the L1TF Linux kernel mitigation itself — see those benchmarks for all the details. Going into this microcode comparison I was expecting much more volatile results given their short-lived benchmark restriction, but it looks like it may have just been an overzealous Intel lawyer who thought it would be a good idea to forbid benchmarking and further lock-down their microcode license…

      • Fresh NVIDIA vs. AMD Radeon OpenCL GPU Benchmarks For August 2018

        It has been a while since last delivering some OpenCL GPU compute benchmarks across several different graphics cards on the latest Linux drivers, so here is a fresh look.

        Tests were done using the the NVIDIA 396.54 Linux driver with the GeForce GTX 1070 / 1070 Ti / 1080 / 1080 Ti graphics cards. On the AMD side was the newest AMDGPU-PRO 18.30 driver release with testing a Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64.

      • The Tighter NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux Gaming Battle With 396.54 + Mesa 18.3-dev Drivers

        Last week NVIDIA released the 396.54 driver that has a significant performance fix for OpenGL/Vulkan Linux performance due to a resource leak regression introduced at the start of the 390 driver series. With that updated driver (also as of yesterday back-ported to 390.87 too), there is a measurable boost in performance after running a few games on NVIDIA Linux systems. But at the same time, the Mesa 18.3-dev open-source graphics driver stack with RadeonSI/RADV continues improving on the open-source AMD front. Here is a fresh look at how the latest AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards compare using these latest drivers.

      • Clear Linux Rolling Out KDE Plasma Desktop Support, Plus Some Benchmarks Against GNOME Shell

        The performance-optimized Clear Linux distribution out of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center started out with Xfce as its lone desktop option and then added and moved over to the GNOME Shell as the default desktop. While GNOME Shell remains the default desktop choice for this rolling-release Linux distribution, KDE components have begun appearing in recent days.

        On Clear Linux it’s now just a swupd bundle-add desktop-kde command away from getting a Plasma 5 desktop on this high-performance Linux stack. Also new are the desktop-kde-apps and desktop-kde-libs bundles, though they are included as part of the desktop-kde bundle. Over the weekend the KDE Plasma desktop became functional on Clear Linux.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • Getting started with the i3 window manager on Linux

      In my article 5 reasons the i3 window manager makes Linux better, I shared the top five reasons I use and recommend the i3 window manager as an alternative Linux desktop experience.

      In this post, I will walk through the installation and basic configuration of i3 on Fedora 28 Linux.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • KD Chart 2.6.1 Released

        This is the latest release of our powerful open-source Qt component, KD Chart, that allows you to create business charts and much more.

      • KDAB at SIGGRAPH – 2018
      • KDAB Talks at Qt World Summit – Boston

        KDAB is offering two talks at Qt World Summit in Boston. Here’s a preview before the full program is published.

        The first, from Qt 3D expert Mike Krus, gives an in-depth look at how to make the collaboration between designers and developers smoother.

      • Akademy 2018 Trip Report

        I recently had the opportunity to attend Akademy – the annual world summit of KDE. This blog post covers my experience of the event, and is mostly a brain-dump memory aide. Akademy attracts KDE developers, enthusiast users and others from the wider Qt, KDE and distro communities. The event is a week-long in-person combination of talks and BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions. This year Akademy was held at TU Wein in Vienna, Austria.

        I’d never attended Akademy before, as I am not a KDE developer, and only recently starting running Plasma on my ThinkPad T450. My employer – Canonical – is a sponsor of the KDE project, and a silver level sponsor of Akademy. A recent reorganisation inside Canonical meant I was able to take someone else’s place at the last minute. So I booked travel and accomodation to attend from Saturday to Tuesday.

      • Plasma Mobile at a demoparty?

        Chaos Constructions is an annual computer festival held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is centered around demoscene — a form of computer art where participants write programs that produce short audio-visual presentations. Apart from the demoscene contests, you can enjoy computer-related seminars, live acts, and a computer exhibition.

      • Human Interface Guidelines

        The Visual Design Group has been hard at work to improve our Human Interface Guidelines. These set of rules and guidelines are meant for our developers and designers to use when creating applications, submitting patches, suggesting UI changes, etc. Every developer that we work with will feel a little more safe that their application is headed in the right visual direction for KDE.

        However, as with most things, our guidelines have become outdated. Recent development into Kirigami and further work into the desktop have made it clear that we must change and update our guidelines to accommodate for these new developments.

        In fact, during Akademy 2018 in Vienna, updating our guidelines was one of the most cited suggestions that I received.

      • TableView

        I’m happy to announce that in Qt 5.12, a new TableView item will be available in the QtQuick module. TableView is similar to the existing ListView, but with additional support for showing multiple columns.

        Like with ListView, you can assign data models of any kind to TableView, like ListModels or plain Javascript arrays. But to create models with more than one column, you currently need to subclass QAbstractItemModel in C++. A QML TableModel is also in the works, but will come later.

      • Calendar progress

        As we’re closing in on a simple but functional calendar for Kube, I’d like to share our progress with you.

        We’ve decided to start with a week view, as that seems to be a good compromise between information density and enough information for day-to-day use.
        We will eventually complement that with a month view, which is probably all we need for the time being.

      • Krita Comic Managemer: Improving the other exporters.

        There’s still more that can be done, like for example accessibility metadata entries, but for now I am pretty pleased with this.

        It is in master, so Krita 4.2 will carry the updated plugin!

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK+ and the application id

        tl;dr: If you want to be sure your application will be displayed with the correct icon under different Wayland compositors make sure that your GApplication (or GtkApplication) uses


        on GTK+3. On GTK+4 this is handled for you.

      • What ails GHashTable?

        I promised a closer look at GHashTable and ways to improve it; here’s that look and another batch of benchmarks to boot.

        This time around I’ve dropped most of the other tables from the plots, keeping only khash and adding results from my GLib branch and Rust’s HashMap, the latter thanks to a pull request from Josh Stone. These tables have closely comparable performance and therefore provide a good reference. Besides, every table tested previously is either generally slower or more memory-hungry (or both), and including them would compress the interesting parts of the plot.

      • What this blog will become after GSoC

        Hello everyone, I am back after some weeks of vacation!

        So GSoC 2018 officially ended last week but I’ve decided to keep using this blog for posting news of the work I will be doing for some time (i.e. until I find a better place for this).

  • Distributions
    • Intel To Develop Safety-Critical Linux OS Distribution

      Imad Sousou of Intel’s Open-Source Technology Center has announced their plans to develop a safety-critical Linux distribution. This Linux distribution will be geared for running on safety-compliant solutions from autonomous vehicles to drones and more.

    • Slackware Family
      • Calibre 3.30.0 for Slackware with internal Qt5 libraries

        It took me quite a while to release a new package for Calibre, the e-book library manager. That had a reason.

        In July I switched the Qt5 package in my repositories to version 5.11 to support the latest KDE Plasma5 software and because it offers advantages over the previous 5.9 releases. Unfortunately, as I found out soon afterwards, the Calibre software fails to work with Qt 5.11 – its GUI components were not built and there was no obvious error to explain why.

        Therefore I had to re-visit the calibre.SlackBuild‘s internals and try to revive the internal functions that compile an embedded Qt library set. This was last tested in the early days of my Calibre packages when Qt4 was the running champion. Adding internal Qt5 support was quite a different beast. Qt5 is a lot bigger than the venerable Qt4 so the build process needed some pruning to keep the compilation times acceptable and the package size under control.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Red Hat to Explore Blockchain Software Tracking Benefits for Cloud Computing Usage

        Multinational firm offering open-source software essentials, Red Hat is apparently seeking the help of blockchain technology to better assess consumer usage of cloud computing platforms. News regarding Red Hat’s recent endeavor was publicised via a patent filed with the U.S Patent & Trademark Office, officially dubbed, “Blockchain-based Software Instance Usage Determination,” as of Thursday, August 23.

        The reason for considering blockchain stems from the challenges that arise when it comes to keeping track of cloud computing costs. In general, software products are licensed annually and have some fixed fee attached to them. This, however, is not the case with cloud computing, as both the necessary licenses and fees are dependent on usage. Therefore, Red Hat’s need to understand usage in terms of the number of users and amount of time used came about.

      • Red Hat Announces Changes to RHCA Certification
      • FusionLayer Joins Red Hat Partner Program
      • Securing apps and services with Keycloak (Watch DevNation Live video)

        The video from the last DevNation Live: Securing apps and services with Keycloak is now available to watch online. In this session, you will learn how to secure web/HTML5 applications, single-page and mobile applications, and services with Keycloak. Keycloak can be used to secure traditional monolithic applications as well as microservices and service mesh-based applications that need secure end-to-end authentication for all front- and back-end services. The examples in the video cover PHP, Node.js, and HTML/JavaScript.

        Securing applications and services is no longer just about assigning a username and password. You need to manage identities. You need to integrate with legacy and external authentication systems to provide features that are in demand like social logins and single sign-on (SSO). Your list of other requirements may be long. But you don’t want to develop all of this yourself, nor should you.

      • Breaking the legacy virtualization cycle: How Red Hat and our partners are transforming IT through open source

        Across nearly every industry, organizations of all shapes and sizes are embracing digital transformation in an effort to modernize their IT departments. They want to deliver better, faster and more dynamic services to customers — and they’re starting from their infrastructure, up. But for companies locked into legacy technologies, transformation isn’t always an option.

        Organizations with proprietary virtualization solutions know all too well how this technology can stifle enterprise IT innovation and advancement. For many, the cost of simply maintaining existing infrastructure investments ties up an overwhelming majority of budgets, leaving little room to invest in new technologies, and the closed vendor ecosystem can make integrating and adopting cloud-native solutions based on Kubernetes and Linux containers nearly impossible.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Stretch Gets Patch for Regression Causing Boot Failures on ARM Systems

        In a recent security advisory, Salvatore Bonaccorso writes that the last Linux kernel update released for Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” to mitigate the L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) security vulnerabilities is causing boot failures for users on the ARM architecture.

        Also known as Foreshadow, these security vulnerabilities are similar to the Spectre security vulnerabilities and allow an attacker that has access to an unprivileged process to read the memory from arbitrary addresses that aren’t controlled by users, including from the kernel.

      • Debian Policy call for participation — August 2018

        Here’s a summary of some of the bugs against the Debian Policy Manual. Please consider getting involved, whether or not you’re an existing contributor.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based Neptune Linux 5.5 Operating System Released with LibreOffice 6.1

          Coming only a month after the Neptune 5.4 release that introduced a new dark theme and updated several components, Neptune 5.5 bumps the kernel version to Linux kernel 4.17.8 and updates the graphics stack to Mesa 18.1.6, AMDGPU DDX 18.0.1, Nouveau DDX 1.0.15, and ATI/Radeon DDX 18.0.1.

          “This update represents the current state of Neptune 5 and renews the ISO file so if you install Neptune you don’t have to download tons of Updates,” writes Leszek Lesner in today’s announcement. “In this update we improved hardware support further by providing Linux Kernel 4.17.8 with improved drivers and bugfixes.”

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 542

            Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue 542 for the week of August 19 – 25, 2018. The full version of this issue is available here.

          • UBports releases Ubuntu Touch OTA-4, the biggest update yet

            When Canonical ceased development of Ubuntu Touch for smartphones and tablets last year, an independent group of developers formed the UBports project to continue supporting and updating the Linux-based smartphone operating system.

            Now the team has released Ubuntu Touch OTA-4, a major update that fixes bugs, updates software packages, adds new features and performance enhancements, and updates the base of the operating system from Ubuntu 15.04 to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 18.10 Will (Once Again) Ship with an Older Version of Nautilus

            April’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS offered up the majority of GNOME 3.28 but devs chose to include Nautilus 3.26 rather than the newer v38 release. That made sense; it was an LTS release and v3.26 was the last version of the file manager to support desktop icons.

            This time around Ubuntu 18.10 will offer up the majority of GNOME 3.30 but, where the file manager is considered, once again stick with Nautilus 3.26.

            We speculated several months back that Ubuntu’s preference for keeping desktop icons around (a feature that newer version of Nautilus do not provide) would override the lure of sure-wrought ‘newness’.

          • Minimal Ubuntu for the cloud delivers some maximum benefits

            Ubuntu is used everywhere. In fact, I’m writing this on an Ubuntu machine, specifically, the oh-so-elegant Ubuntu Mate distro. Hundreds of millions of personal computers, servers, mobile devices, and containers are booting Ubuntu, and aren’t looking back. Ubuntu even runs inside the International Space Station and controls the BYU Mars Rover. Ubuntu phones are being rolled out by Meizu and BQ, and it is worth mentioning that Ubuntu can even be installed on Google Nexus tablets and phones. Ubuntu is also running on Hubu, the world’s cleverest robot. Ubuntu powers the infrastructure at leading organizations like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Netflix, Walmart, Bloomberg, WETA Digital, and even Wikipedia. Ubuntu is also behind the largest supercomputer Tianhe-2. Ever since cloud computing has taken off, Ubuntu has become a big key player in the market. Over 60 million Ubuntu images are launched by Docker users. There’s plenty of Ubuntu in Kubernetes, Apache Mesos, Cloud Foundry, and Heroku. And now, there is a brand new version of Ubuntu on the block — Minimal Ubuntu.

          • Canonical Outs Intel Microcode Security Update for All Supported Ubuntu Releases

            According to the advisory, the new Intel microcode firmware security update mitigates the L1 Terminal Fault (L1TF) vulnerability documented as CVE-2018-3646, which could allow an attacker in a guest virtual machine to expose sensitive information from either the host operating system or other guests.

            It also fixes the well known Spectre Variant 4 security vulnerability (CVE-2018-3639) that could allow an attacker to expose sensitive information, including kernel memory via a side-channel attack, and another side-channel attack known as Rogue System Register Read (RSRE) and documented as (CVE-2018-3640).

          • Ubuntu Server development summary – 28 August 2018

            The purpose of this communication is to provide a status update and highlights for any interesting subjects from the Ubuntu Server Team. If you would like to reach the server team, you can find us at the #ubuntu-server channel on Freenode. Alternatively, you can sign up and use the Ubuntu Server Team mailing list.

          • Flavours and Variants
  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Open Mainframe Project Announces Zowe: A Platform for the Mainframe

    The Open Mainframe Project today announced Zowe. Zowe provides an open source software framework to bridge the gap between modern applications and the mainframe. It gives users easier interoperability and scalability for tools from multiple vendors. Zowe is the first open source project based on z/OS.

    As hybrid cloud architectures grow in popularity, organizations will need intuitive, productive, and better-integrated capabilities for z/OS. The project’s mission centers around hybrid delivery through an open source framework. It will also build an ecosystem of independent software vendors, system integrations, clients, and end users. This framework enables an ecosystem of software solutions intended to provide a simple, intuitive environment for IT professionals across teams.

  • Google releases open source reinforcement learning framework for training AI models

    Reinforcement learning — an artificial intelligence (AI) technique that uses rewards (or punishments) to drive agents in the direction of specific goals — trained the systems that defeated Alpha Go world champions and mastered Valve’s Dota 2. And it’s a core part of Google subsidiary DeepMind’s deep Q-network (DQN), which can distribute learning across multiple workers in the pursuit of, for example, achieving “superhuman” performance in Atari 2600 games. The trouble is, reinforcement learning frameworks take time to master a goal, tend to be inflexible, and aren’t always stable.

    That’s why Google is proposing an alternative: an open source reinforcement framework based on TensorFlow, its machine learning library. It’s available from Github starting today.

  • Liberty Activists Migrating from Twitter to Censorship-Proof “Mastodon” Decentralized Platform

    There has been a lot of controversy recently over social media websites like Twitter swinging their ban hammer on personalities with opinions they don’t like. As a libertarian, I believe in property rights and so Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and the like should certainly be free to ban people for whatever reason they want. I also believe in the free market’s potential reactions to bad decisions by business owners, which include boycott and competition.

    Thankfully, the competition has arrived! Mastodon is a decentralized social media replacement for Twitter and it does an excellent job. I recently joined the “Liberdon” server intended for libertarians and voluntarists. Not only is Mastodon decentralized, in that anyone who wants to can run a server, but it’s also “federated”. Federated means your server can be connected to all the other Mastodon servers, that is so long as the other servers want to be connected to you. Each server sets its own rules for which other servers they’ll federate with. So if the NAZIs or Communists start a server, no one has to link up to them – the market decides instead of a centralized corporation like Twitter. However, even if no other servers federate with, say Chris Cantwell‘s server (I don’t think he has one – just as an example), he can still run his server and hate-filled bigots and racists can join it and talk to each other. Of course, each server can be controlled and its policy set by its administrator, so intra-server censorship is still possible (most servers prohibit spam, for instance), but given you are free to start your own server and set your own policy, you can’t be censored if you start your own platform.

  • Now available: The open source guide to DevOps monitoring tools

    Once upon a time, I was troubleshooting some vexing problems in an application that needed to be scaled several orders of magnitude, with only a couple of weeks to re-architect it. We had no log aggregation, no metrics aggregation, no distributed tracing, and no visualization. Most of our work had to be done on the actual production nodes using tools like strace and grepping through logs. These are great tools, but they don’t make it easy to analyze a distributed system across dozens of hosts. We got the job done, but it was painful and involved a lot more guessing and risk than I prefer.

    At a different job, I helped troubleshoot an app in production that was suffering from an out-of-memory (OOM) issue. The problem was inconsistent, as it didn’t seem to correlate with running time, load, time of day, or any other aspect that would provide some predictability. This was obviously going to be a difficult problem to diagnose on a system that spanned hundreds of hosts with many applications calling it. Luckily, we had log aggregation, distributed tracing, metrics aggregation, and a plethora of visualizations. We looked at our memory graph and saw a distinct spike in memory usage, so we used that spike to alert us so we could diagnose the issue in real time when it occurred.

  • 4 open source monitoring tools

    Isn’t monitoring just monitoring? Doesn’t it include logging, visualization, and time-series data?

    The terminology around monitoring has caused a lot of confusion over the years and has led to some poor tools that tout the ability to do everything in one format. Observability proponents recognize there are many levels for observing a system. Metrics aggregation is primarily time-series data, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

  • Google improves AI model training by open-sourcing framework
  • AI: Google releases open source framework for reinforcement learning
  • An Introduction to Quantum Computing with Open Source Cirq Framework

    As the title suggests what we are about to begin discussing, this article is an effort to understand how far we have come in Quantum Computing and where we are headed in the field in order to accelerate scientific and technological research, through an Open Source perspective with Cirq.

    First, we will introduce you to the world of Quantum Computing. We will try our best to explain the basic idea behind the same before we look into how Cirq would be playing a significant role in the future of Quantum Computing. Cirq, as you might have heard of recently, has been breaking news in the field and in this Open Science article, we will try to find out why.


    It will be easier for us to understand Quantum Computing by comparing it first to Classical Computing. Classical Computing refers to how today’s conventional computers are designed to work. The device with which you are reading this article right now, can also be referred to as a Classical Computing Device.

  • Events
    • Reports from Netdev 0×12

      The Netdev 0×12 networking conference was held in mid-July. Participants at the event have put together a set of reports of the talks that were held on the last two days; Day 2 includes eleven talks, including the keynote by Van Jacobson, while Day 3 covers another ten topics.

    • Netdev day 3

      In this talk Tushar Dave presents his work on using eBPF for Reliable Datagram Socket (RDS) filtering. Tushar started his talk by explaining that RDS is a high performance, low latency connectionless protocol that sits on top of TCP (sk_buff) and IB (scatterlist) transport layers.

      The problem Tushar tried to solve was to implement RDS filtering and firewall to do DPI of a full RDS packet in a unified solution for both TCP and IB. Netfilter is a possibility but Netfilter only uses sk_buff. An alternative is eBPF which has been adopted into the Linux kernel and used for a lot of things.

      In order to use eBPF as it was, Tushar had to add a new BPF prog type (similar to socket filter) that deals with scatterlist. In addition he had to create a new function to setup needed data structures to run filter program attached to the socket. As POC Tushar created a BPF helper to help users to traverse the sg elements in the scatterlist.

    • Netdev 2018 day 2

      The first of these saved us until ~1995, then the second and third until ~2012. Since then the problem has been increasing. Dennard’s scaling stopped. Usually, the switch’s speed was faster than the host speed. CPU upgrades cannot solve network problems anymore. This had a big impact on the network. Google has been working to try and address some of these issues; Van mentioned several Google authored papers: – Hull, BwE, FQ/pacing, Timely, BBR, Carousel. All these papers tried to figure out how to find the bottleneck link downstream and prevent pressure in downstream buffers. BwE discussed how to fix things at the host to prevent queue buildup in switches. FQ/pacing was about desire to prevent many packets traveling to the same destinations in bursts.

      Van argued that AFAP isn’t working for us now because it’s local to the host and our problems aren’t local. We need a mechanism that allows for more control of packet spacing on the wire. To enforce relationships between all outgoing packets, the enforcement mechanism needs to be just in front of the NIC. Carousel is a great example of this.

  • Web Browsers
    • Chrome
    • Mozilla
      • Thank You, Cathy Davidson

        Cathy Davidson joined the Mozilla Foundation board in 2012, and has been a force helping us broaden our horizons and enter new areas. Cathy was the first person to join the Foundation board without a multi-year history with browsers or open source. This was an act of bravery!

      • SUMO Days Firefox 62: you are invited!

        On these days, Support contributors will be online answering questions live and hanging out. If you do not see anyone active online, please contact Rachel (username: guigs) or another Administrator or Operator in the #sumo IRC channel listed in the wiki.

        There is also the two Telegram channels that are active for assignments of tweets and collaboration. You may need an account to participate, so just send a message to social Telegram group – there are guidelines on how to set up Tweetdeck for social if you would like your own workspace, or you can message guigs to add your trello account to the trello board with delegated tweets for the day.

      • Experiment: Adjusting SETA to run individual files instead of individual jobs

        I did an experiment in June (was PTO and busy on migrating a lot of tests in July/August) where I did some queries on the treeherder database to find the actual test cases that caused the failures instead of only the job names. I came up with a list of 171 tests that we needed to run and these ran in 6 jobs in the tree using 147 minutes of CPU time.

      • Dear Venmo: Update Your Privacy Settings

        Last month, privacy researcher and Mozilla Fellow Hang Do Thi Duc released Public By Default, a sobering look at the vast amount of personal data that’s easily accessible on Venmo, the mobile payment app.

        By using Venmo’s public API and its “public by default” setting for user transactions, Hang was able to watch a couple feud on Valentine’s Day, observe a woman’s junk food habits, and peer into a marijuana dealer’s business operations. Seven million people use Venmo every month — and many may not know that their transactions are available for anyone to see.

        Privacy, and not publicity, should be the default.

        Despite widespread coverage of Hang’s work — and a petition by Mozilla that has garnered more than 17,000 signatures — Venmo transactions are still public by default.

      • Taskcluster Credential Derivation in EC2 using S/MIME, OpenSSL’s C api and Node.js’s N-API
      • Shrinking Go Binaries
      • Firefox Nightly Secure DNS Experimental Results

        A previous post discussed a planned Firefox Nightly experiment involving secure DNS via the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) protocol. That experiment is now complete and this post discusses the results.

        Browser users are currently experiencing spying and spoofing of their DNS information due to reliance on the unsecured traditional DNS protocol. A paper from the 2018 Usenix Security Symposium provides a new data point on how often DNS is actively interfered with – to say nothing of the passive data collection that it also endures. DoH will let Firefox securely and privately obtain DNS information from one or more services that it trusts to give correct answers and keep the interaction private.

      • Taskcluster Artifact API extended to support content verification and improve error detection
      • Let’s be Transparent

        Two years ago, we released the Firefox Hardware Report to share with the public the state of desktop hardware. Whether you’re a web developer deciding what hardware settings to test against or someone just interested in CPUs and GPUs, we wanted to provide a public resource to show exactly what technologies are running in the wild.

        This year, we’re continuing the tradition by releasing the Firefox Public Data Report. This report expands on the hardware report by adding data on how Firefox desktop users are using the browser and the web. Ever wanted to know the effect of Spring Festival on internet use in China? (it goes down.) What add-on is most popular this week in Russia? (it’s Визуальные закладки.) What country averages the most browser use per day? (Americans, with about 6 to 6.5 hours of use a day.) In total there are 10 metrics, broken down by the top 10 countries, with plans to add more in the future.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • Oracle Solaris 11.4 Released for General Availability

      I’m pleased to announce the release of Oracle Solaris 11.4. Of the four releases of Oracle Solaris that I’ve been involved in, this is the best one yet!

      Oracle Solaris is the trusted business platform that you depend on. Oracle Solaris 11 gives you consistent compatibility, is simple to use and is designed to always be secure.

    • Solaris 11.4 released

      Congrats to my colleagues in the Solaris team who released Solaris 11.4 today. Despite the 11.x moniker, this is actually a major Solaris release; Oracle has just decided to go down the perpetual macOS X / Windows 10 version numbering route from now on. (This development is unlikely to faze Solaris veterans, who have been using SunOS 5.x since 1992.)

    • Oracle Solaris 11.4 Officially Released

      Two years after Solaris 11.3 and Oracle opting for a “continuous delivery” model of updates instead of a “Solaris 12″, Solaris 11.4 is out the door today.

      Oracle is talking up Solaris 11.4 with its general availability release as “the trusted business platform”, “consistent compatibility, is simple to use and is designed to always be secure”, “more than 3,000 applications certified to run on it”, and “the only operating system that has completed UNIX V7 certification.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
    • No lasers or Linux hacks, but Better Call Saul remains one of TV’s techiest shows [Ed: Conde Nast throws terms like "Linux hacks" into headlines that have nothing to do with Linux. Knowing that many people associate "hacks" with malice...]
    • Open Source Components Save Time but Need to be Closely Monitored [Ed: Proprietary software also needs to be closely monitored, but I understand that some rather parasitic firms -- some connected closely to Microsoft -- create a stigma to sell their blobs. Zev Brodsky from WhiteSource, which works with Microsoft, is attacking FOSS here, as usual.]
    • Opening Doors to Collaboration with Open Source Projects [Ed: Here we have the Linux Foundation once again propping up Microsoft; this is the company currently investigated by DoJ for corruption and bribery. If the Linux Foundation was a wild animal, it would not survive very long. It’s putting its head inside the lion’s mouth, expecting the lion to lick it instead of biting it. Or maybe the Linux Foundation no longer pursues the success of Linux but instead just wants to get as much money and influence as possible...]
  • BSD
    • OBSD.ams : The setup

      For all the people who want to know what our setup looks like. Below is a write-up of our setup and configuration. There aren’t any packages installed on the servers running the Virtual Machines.

    • bison-3.1 released [stable]

      We are very happy to announce the release of GNU Bison 3.1. It introduces new features such as typed midrule actions, brings improvements in the diagnostics, fixes several bugs and portability issues, improves the examples, and more.

  • Licensing/Legal
    • GPL Violations Cost Creality a US Distributor

      One of the core tenets of free and open source software licenses is that you’re being provided source code for a project with the hope that you’ll “pay it forward” if and when you utilize that code. In fact some licenses, such as the GNU Public License (GPL), require that you keep the source code for subsequent spin-offs or forks open. These are known as viral licenses, and the hope is that they will help spread the use of open source as derivative works can’t turn around and refuse to release their source code.

    • Sign up for the FSF’s next seminar on GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is the recognized canonical source on best practices for the use of GNU licenses. As stewards of the GNU family of licenses, we provide a wide variety of resources for helping developers and lawyers alike to improve their understanding of software freedom. In addition to published resources, we also routinely provide in-person instruction in the form of continuing legal education seminars. The FSF is proud to announce again that we are offering a seminar to take place on the west coast on September 27th.

    • Open-source licensing war: Commons Clause

      Most people wouldn’t know an open-source license from their driver’s license. For those who work with open-source software, it’s a different story. Open-source license fights can be vicious, cost serious coin, and determine the fate of multi-million dollar companies. So, when Redis Labs added a new license clause, Commons Clause, on top of Redis, an open-source, BSD licensed, in-memory data structure store, all hell broke loose.

      Why? First, you need to understand that while you may never have heard of Redis, it’s a big deal. It enables real-time applications such as advertising, gaming financial services, and IoT to work at speed. That’s because it can deliver sub-millisecond response times to millions of requests per second.

      But Redis Labs has been unsuccessful in monetizing Redis, or at least not as successful as they’d like. Their executives were discovering, like the far more well-known Docker, that having a great open-source technology did not mean you’d be making millions. Redis’ solution was to embrace Commons Clause.

  • Programming/Development
    • Stop! Don’t blindly take that coding challenge.

      If we can collectively reject awful hiring practices, we all win. Employers already have most of the power in this relationship, so we need to band together and consider how each of our individual actions affect the community as a whole.


      Don’t ever do a code test before speaking with an engineer on the team. You have the power to stop employers from lazily looking at your “hacker rank” or some other arbitrarily defined score. If you want to be treated like a human being, just stop doing things that put you in a box and force you to be seen as a number.


      You have the power. You can do this.

    • Is “C Programming language” Still Worth Learning in 2018?

      C has been an evergreen language and played a prominent role for most of the system developments that took place in the last few decades. C programming was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie between 1969 and 1973 at Bell Labs and was made for general-purpose, imperative computer programming, that supported structured programming, lexical variable, scope, and recursion etc.

      Today, we have lots of programming languages to choose and learn but as a beginner, everybody has a question “Which programming language should I learn first?” and most of the answers that we get on the internet or through suggestions are “C”. In this article, we’ll try to find out if C Programming is still worth learning in 2018. If yes then why?

    • This Week in Rust 249

      This Week in Rust is openly developed on GitHub. If you find any errors in this week’s issue, please submit a PR.

    • Add GUIs to your programs and scripts easily with PySimpleGUI

      Few people run Python programs by double-clicking the .py file as if it were a .exe file. When a typical user (non-programmer types) double-clicks an .exe file, they expect it to pop open with a window they can interact with. While GUIs, using tkinter, are possible using standard Python installations, it’s unlikely many programs do this.

      What if it were so easy to open a Python program into a GUI that complete beginners could do it? Would anyone care? Would anyone use it? It’s difficult to answer because to date it’s not been easy to build a custom GUI.

      There seems to be a gap in the ability to add a GUI onto a Python program/script. Complete beginners are left using only the command line and many advanced programmers don’t want to take the time required to code up a tkinter GUI.

    • Containers in Perl 6

      In the first article in this series comparing Perl 5 to Perl 6, we looked into some of the issues you might encounter when migrating code into Perl 6. In the second article, we examined how garbage collection works in Perl 6. Here, in the third article, we’ll focus on Perl 5′s references and how they’re handled in Perl 6, and introduce the concepts of binding and containers.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • What is the stance on plain packaging across Asia?

      IP practitioners are concerned that the WTO ruling on plain packaging encroaches on IP rights and could spell trouble for other industries

    • Brexit no-deal could send cigarette packaging up in flames

      The UK government’s Brexit no-deal guidance has raised uncertainty over tobacco plain packaging that uses EU copyrighted images. IP practitioners say the potential disruption to UK cigarette companies will depend on the EU Commission’s attitude to its IP

    • Indonesia, Cuba Do Not Appeal WTO Plain-Packaging Ruling

      The governments of Cuba and Indonesia today chose not to appeal a June ruling at the World Trade Organization that upheld Australia’s law requiring tobacco products sold in the country to be packaged without logos or other trademarked designs. That leaves Honduras and the Dominican Republic alone in their appeals of the decision.


      Cuba called the panel’s report “very deceiving,” said it relied on fundamentally non-objective analysis, and that it was structured to reach a predetermined outcome. “In other words,” it said, the report was subjected to “reverse engineering.” Notwithstanding its serious concerns about the report, the country chose not to participate in the next phase. Indonesia reportedly also indicated its displeasure with the ruling but chose not to appeal.

      Australia, for its part, praised the panel for confirming that WTO rules do not inhibit the right of members to “implement legitimate, non-discriminatory public health measures.” It also noted the number of other countries which have since adopted their own plain packaging laws, including the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Hungary and Slovenia. It named others that are currently working to adopt such measures, including Canada, Uruguay, Singapore, Belgium and Chile.

      Canada, a third party to the case, applauded the panel’s decision, saying it reflects a “careful balance struck between rights and obligations to facilitate trade and a Member’s right to take legitimate public health measures.” Canada confirmed it is currently working to adopt plain packaging measures.

  • Security
    • Kali Linux 2018.3 Release

      Another edition of Hacker Summer Camp has come and gone. We had a great time meeting our users, new and old, particularly at our Black Hat and DEF CON Dojos, which were led by our great friend @ihackstuff and the rest of the Offensive Security crew. Now that everyone is back home, it’s time for our third Kali release of 2018, which is available for immediate download.

      Kali 2018.3 brings the kernel up to version 4.17.0 and while 4.17.0 did not introduce many changes, 4.16.0 had a huge number of additions and improvements including more Spectre and Meltdown fixes, improved power management, and better GPU support.

    • Kali Linux 2018.3 Ethical Hacking OS Adds iOS Research, Penetration Testing Tool

      Offensive Security announced today the release of Kali Linux 2018.3, a new snapshot of the Debian-based ethical hacking and penetration testing operating system formerly known as BackTrack Linux that brings updated components and several new tools.

      Powered by the Linux 4.17 kernel series, Kali Linux 2018.3 adds more fixes for the latest Spectre and Meltdown security vulnerabilities, better power management, improved GPU support, and lots of updated hacking and penetration testing tools, including Aircrack-ng, Burp Suite, OpenVAS, Wifite, and WPScan. A full changelog with all the fixes and updates is available here.

      “Another edition of Hacker Summer Camp has come and gone. We had a great time meeting our users, new and old, particularly at our Black Hat and DEF CON Dojos,” writes the Offensive Security team. “Now that everyone is back home, it’s time for our third Kali release of 2018, which is available for immediate download.”

    • Fortnite Installer Vulnerabilities Highlight Mobile App Store Risks

      There are many good reasons why it’s often best for organizations looking to deploy or consume Android applications to use the Google Play mobile apps store.

      The discovery of a high-profile flaw in one of the world’s most popular games highlights why you should stick to apps in Google Play. Epic Games’ Fortnite is played by millions of players around the world on different platforms, including Android. Fortnite, however, isn’t available on the Google Play store for Android; rather, Epic Games decided to bypass Google and use a third-party store to deliver its game. That fact, however, didn’t stop Google from discovering a serious vulnerability that was publicly disclosed on Aug. 25.

    • Command Injection Vulnerability found in WordPress Plainview Activity Monitor v20161228 and Prior

      A command injection vulnerability has been found in the renowned personal blogging and website creation management platform: WordPress. The vulnerability is found to exist in the Plainview Activity Monitor WordPress Plugin component, and it has been assigned a CVE identifier of CVE-2018-15877.

    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #174
    • Latest Mirai variant leverages open source project for cross platform infections [Ed: Actually, it leverages bad devices where the passwords and usernames are both uniform, the same, among other issues]
    • Bubblewrap Security Feature Will Be Removed From Ubuntu and CentOS

      Ubuntu and CentOS are disabling a security feature which was added to the GNOME Desktop environment last year. The Security feature named Bubblewrap creates a sandbox environment that secures GNOME’s thumbnail parsers.

      Thumbnail parsers are the scripts that read files inside a folder and create a thumbnail image that can be used with the GNOME, KDE and different Linux Desktop Environments. The operation takes place whenever the user navigates to directories within the OS where there is a need to display thumbnail images.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • DLL Injection and Code Execution Vulnerability in v54.5.90 lets Hackers spread Malware
    • Back to School Essentials for Security

      Going back to school? This is a perfect time for a digital security refresh to ensure the privacy of you and your friends is protected!

      It’s a good time to change your passwords. The best practice is to have passwords that are unique, long, and random. In order to keep track of these unique, long and random passwords, consider downloading a password manager.

      As a great additional measure: You can add login notifications to your accounts, so that you can monitor logins from devices you don’t recognize.

      If you’re a regular user of a public computer, like at the school library or lab, keep in mind that public computers can remember information from your logins. Adding two factor authentication to your accounts is a great way to bolster your security. Adding a second factor in addition to your unique, long, and random password makes it much harder for someone else to access your account. There are many types of two factor authentication, including SMS text messages, apps like Authenticator, or hardware tokens like Yubikey.

    • Security reviews and microservices

      Humans don’t scale, not even linearly. In fact adding more humans probably results in worse performance. If you need to review a thousand services you will need an incredible number of people, and anytime people are involved there are going to be a lot of mistakes made. There is no secret option three where we just staff up to get this done. Staffing up probably just means you now have two problems instead of one.

      Automation is the only plausible solution.

    • WhatsApp Vulnerable to Memory Corruption and DoS Crash with Crafted Message in v2.18.61

      WhatsApp is not new to memory corruption vulnerabilities. After a series of infamous and chronically frustrating special character message circulations which would cause the application to crash fiercely until the troublesome message was deleted (note that deleting the message was a feat immensely difficult to accomplish as the application would crash repeatedly and not launch properly in the first place to allow you to delete the message), there is now another such crafted message which is lending itself to a memory corruption vulnerability in the popular instant messaging social media platform.

      The new-found Memory corruption vulnerability has been found to affect the iPhones 5, 6s, and X with iOS 10 and 11.4.1 which was the latest iOS version when the tests were conducted. The vulnerability exists in WhatsApp’s versions 2.18.61 and older on these platforms.

  • Defence/Aggression
    • Skripals – When the BBC Hide the Truth

      On 8 July 2018 a lady named Kirsty Eccles asked what, in its enormous ramifications, historians may one day see as the most important Freedom of Information request ever made. The rest of this post requires extremely close and careful reading, and some thought, for you to understand that claim.

    • [Likely fabricated, see below] Bob Marley Assassination Rumours Surface: Ex-CIA Agent Allegedly Claims His Murder

      A report has many Bob Marley fans tripping. The piece contains quotes from a supposed CIA retiree named Bill Oxley. The 79-year-old is said to have confessed to the assassination of Marley. Oxley was inspired by his mortality to share his secrets from his deathbed.

    • FAKE NEWS ALERT: The CIA did NOT kill Bob Marley

      The report was first posted online by

      It’s one of the most notorious Fake News websites. For instance, it spread rumours that Hillary Clinton was linked to a paedophile ring.

      Another time, it claimed US authorities were plotting to assassinate Donald Trump.

      The site is registered by Sean Adl-Tabatabai, a former BBC producer who went on to work for the conspiracy theory website of David Icke, who believes the world is controlled by predatory lizards who demand human sacrifice.

      The Bob Marley article is written by Baxter Dmitry, whose other articles include fake claims that the FBI carefully deleted evidence from the Las Vegas shooting, the Pope believes Jesus has turned into Satan, and that Britney Spears had admitted to escaping from the Illuminati.

    • Germany to Shield 9/11 Plotter from CIA Amid Repatriation to Morocco – Report

      Former Al-Qaeda member Mounir al-Motassadeq, convicted of preparing the 2001 terrorist attacks, is to be released after 15 years in a German prison and sent home to Morocco. According to German media he will be taken there on board of a chartered plane in a special operation, as local security services fear that US intelligence may intercept him.

      Forty-four-year-old Mounir el-Motassadeq, imprisoned in Germany for taking part in organizing terror attacks on the US on September 11, 2001, is to be secretly deported to his homeland of Morocco after October 15, the Bild news outlet reported.

    • Ex-CIA Officer: US Intelligence ‘Likely Bluffing’ About Its Agents in Kremlin

      The New York Times reported on Friday, citing unnamed US intelligence officials, that US sources in the Kremlin who had warned about Russian intervention in the US 2016 presidential election were now remaining silent about any possible Russian plans to intervene in the upcoming congressional elections in November.


      The story that had been fed to the New York Times reporters was also probably an attempt to spread disinformation among the Russian security services and authorities, Giraldi advised.

      “It is far more likely that US intelligence officials are trying to pull off a double bluff and convince the Russians that they have agents there in order to set off a fruitless and distracting counter-intelligence search,” he said.

      Also, contrary to insinuations in the New York Times article, there was no evidence to indicate that Russia was trying to kill US sources or intelligence agents, Giraldi added.

    • US Intelligence Sources ‘Likely Bluffing’ About Human Agents In Kremlin – Ex-CIA Officer

      US intelligence officials who told the New York Times they had high level intelligence sources in the Kremlin were probably bluffing to bolster their discredited allegations about Russia interfering in the 2016 US elections, retired CIA case officer Philip Giraldi told Sputnik.

      “Senior US intelligence officers would never so casually and publicly admit they had high-level intelligence sources in the Kremlin,” Giraldi said on Monday. “That is the most elementary of procedures.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • ‘Using Media to Create This Idea There’s a Gang on Every Street Corner’

      Janine Jackson: When local and federal law enforcement conducted an early morning raid in the Bronx in May 2016, arresting more than 100 people accused of “gang membership,” tabloids didn’t waste any ink on words like “alleged.” But the New York Times wasn’t less cartoonish: They told readers, “For the last ten years, life in the northern Bronx has largely been defined by wanton violence.” And the Times was no less quick to cheer for this kind of militarized intervention, supposedly aimed at reducing violence. CounterSpin asked writer and organizer Josmar Trujillo for some context.

      Josmar Trujillo: Raids, and gang raids in particular, aren’t new in New York City, or really in the United States. But last Wednesday’s raid, the size of it and the media hype around it, they’re expanding from the last, I’d say, two to three years. And probably even more so since the death of a police officer in my neighborhood, Spanish Harlem, last October. A lot of that had to do with the strategy of the district attorney there, Cy Vance.

    • The President Is a White-Nationalist Mob Boss—and His Base Doesn’t Care

      Diehard Trump supporters represent at most a quarter of the electorate, but dominate media discussions of the president’s standing. They shouldn’t.

    • How Do We Verify Anonymous Sources?

      In the movie “All the President’s Men,” a young Bob Woodward repeatedly goes to a dimly lit parking garage to meet with a man whose face was shrouded by shadows as he dispenses bits of information. That information fuels the Washington Post’s reporting on Watergate and, ultimately, helps lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

      The source was known as “Deep Throat,” and he became perhaps the most famous anonymous source in modern journalism history. But he wasn’t anonymous to Woodward, who near the beginning of the movie calls him from a pay phone hoping he’ll provide information about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, located in the Watergate complex.

    • Media Continues Writing Premature Obituaries for the Democratic Left

      Despite these eager obituaries, there were also plenty of wins for insurgent Democrats on August 7. Democratic Socialist and Our Revolution candidate Rashida Tlaib won her primary for the House seat in Michigan’s 13th district; since she is running unopposed in the general election, she will become the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress. James Thompson also won the Democratic nomination in Kansas’s 4th district, and will face Ron Estes in a tough race in a deep-red district. Sarah Smith came in second in Washington’s 9th district top-two primary, and will face incumbent Democrat Adam Smith in the general election. Progressive candidates also earned big wins in a number of state and local races, and Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to overturn the state’s anti-union right-to-work laws.

      More wins for left-leaning candidates came the following week on August 14. Somali refugee Ilhan Omar, who won her primary in Minnesota’s 5th district, will join Rashida Tlaib to become the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Randy Bryce won his primary to run for Paul Ryan’s soon-to-be-vacant seat in Wisconsin’s 1st district. Progressive Jahana Hayes won against Mary Glassman (who was surprisingly supported by a local Our Revolution chapter) in Connecticut’s 5th district, and will likely become the state’s first female African-American Democrat in Congress. Sanders-endorsee Christine Hallquist won the gubernatorial primary in Vermont, becoming the first trans woman nominated for a major political office.

      There were losses as well as wins in the August 14 primary, like Kaniela Saito Ing in Hawaii’s 11th district. Yet the major wins on August 14 made the premature obituaries of Sanders’s candidates look like wishful reporting.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Internet Content Moderation Isn’t Politically Biased, It’s Just Impossible To Do Well At Scale

      The narrative making the political rounds recently is that the big social media platforms are somehow “biased against conservatives” and deliberately trying to silence them (meanwhile, there are some in the liberal camp who are complaining that sites like Twitter have not killed off certain accounts, arguing — incorrectly — that they’re now overcompensating in trying to not kick off angry ideologues). This has been a stupid narrative from the beginning, but the refrain on it has only been getting louder and louder, especially as Donald Trump has gone off on one of his ill-informed rants claming that “Social Media Giants are silencing millions of people.” Let’s be clear: this is all nonsense.

      The real issue — as we’ve been trying to explain for quite some time now — is that basic content moderation at scale is nearly impossible to do well. That doesn’t mean sites can’t do better, but the failures are not because of some institutional bias. Will Oremus, over at Slate, has a good article up detailing why this narrative is nonsense, and he points to the episode of Radiolab we recently wrote about, that digs deep on how Facebook moderation choices happen, where you quickly begin to get a sense of why it’s impossible to do it well. I would add to that a recent piece from Motherboard, accurately titled The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People.

    • Event: Amnesty International Hong Kong hosts 8th Human Rights Documentary Film Festival

      The festival will feature six documentaries focusing on five human rights themes: peace and freedom, migrant workers, freedom of speech, civil society, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, democracy, and internet surveillance.

    • When Freedom of Expression Isn’t Free: Journalism, Facebook, and Censorship in Bhutan

      On August 6, a Bhutanese journalist was sentenced to three months in prison for libel. The journalist had written a post on her personal Facebook account about a woman mistreating her 6-year-old stepdaughter. The post went viral, the police and other related agencies became involved. There were testimonies made in defense of the journalist by several parties, but the court found them to be “inadmissible.” The court verdict, besides meting out this punishment, asked the journalist to post an “apology statement” addressed to the “victim” – not the child, but the stepmother – on Facebook and to keep it for a month.

      This is the second time a Bhutanese journalist has been dragged to court for defamation via Facebook. I was the other journalist, the first to be the defendant of such a defamation suit in the country in 2016. The case, which involved a property dispute, received international attention and was considered important for freedom of expression in Bhutan. I would have been sentenced to three years in prison for libel had the case not been withdrawn at the end of the trial by the plaintiff. I did not see the end as having been a victory for me. There was no judgment in favor of a constitutional right.

      The Constitution of Bhutan guarantees every Bhutanese the fundamental right to free speech, opinion, and expression. But there are many ways in which this is curtailed. For instance, civil servants are “gagged” by the Bhutan Civil Service Rules and Regulations, a section of which, called Civil Service Core Values, states: “A civil servant shall not criticise his agency and the Royal Government.”

    • When the news media is news: A new book details censorship and self-censorship in the Chávez regime

      Since Hugo Chávez became President of Venezuela in 1999, approximately 21 journalists have been attacked every year; others lost their jobs, or were murdered. The escalation of violence against the press was because of the implementation of a systematic policy of harassment of freedom of expression that ended up framing the press as the main enemy of the revolution.


      Which media organizations supported Chávez’s candidacy and his rise to power? Which channel was the first to make the decision to split the screen between government programming and their own content during the coup d’état attempt on April 11, 2002? Who was behind the departure of Teodoro Petkoff from El Mundo? The book answers these questions, and many more.

    • Defending the Digital Commons: A Left-Libertarian Critique of Speech and Censorship in the Virtual Public Square

      Is it now progressive to argue that essential liberties and rights should yield to private corporate power? I ask because the notion that the freedom to transmit and receive information is properly limited on the grounds that businesses profit from the control of ideas has always struck me as a rightwing position: liberty exists beyond the government—or in spite of it. In the rightwing view, the government is not something that should necessarily defend the civil rights of individuals in all circumstances, but something that, in its neutrality, perpetuates the privileges of elites as a class. Yet an argument has emerged on the left appealing to the supposed right of private corporations to legally censor speech as justification for suppressing objectionable expressions and opinions.

      The case that prompts this essay is the suppression of Alex Jones and InfoWars (its podcasts, webcasts, etc.), a fringe media outfit with a rightwing bent and an aggressive edge, by several large social media platforms—including Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify—for violating their policies against “glorifying violence” and “hate speech.” Jones is notorious for promoting what are popularly called “conspiracy theories,” such as the claim that the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 was a false flag operation designed to bring the population under greater government control. Although Facebook, for example, has been aggressively censoring pages and posts for more than a decade, Jones’ infamy has drawn attention to the practice. “Glorifying violence,” Facebook explains in a statement released to the media, “violates our graphic violence policy.” “Hate speech” is evidenced by “dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”

    • Facebook Censorship, Mad Ben Nimmo and the Atlantic Council

      Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say “So what?”, I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.

      Facebook’s plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council – the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush’s chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, among a whole list of horrors.

      The staff are worse than the Board. Their lead expert on Russian bot detection is an obsessed nutter named Ben Nimmo, whose fragile grip on reality has been completely broken by his elevation to be the internet’s Witchfinder-General. Nimmo, grandly titled “Senior Fellow for Information Defense at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab”, is the go-to man for Establishment rubbishing of citizen journalists, and as with Joseph McCarthy or Matthew Clarke, one day society will sufficiently recover its balance for it to be generally acknowledged that this kind of witch-hunt nonsense was not just an aberration, but a manifestation of the evil it claimed to fight.

      There is no Establishment cause Nimmo will not aid by labeling its opponents as Bots. This from the Herald newspaper two days ago, where Nimmo uncovers the secret web of Scottish Nationalist bots that dominate the internet, and had the temerity to question the stitch-up of Alex Salmond.

    • Billionaire Steve Wynn, Who Once Tried To Kill Nevada’s Anti-SLAPP Law, Loses Defamation Case Under That Law

      Back in 2015, we wrote about some apparent backroom dealing in Nevada, in which the legislature seemed poised to get rid of that state’s very good and thorough anti-SLAPP law. As a reminder, anti-SLAPP laws are designed to stop an unfortunately common practice of wealthy individuals and companies from suing critics and reporters for defamation, even though the defamation cases themselves had no chance. The plaintiffs knew that merely dragging the defendant to court would be costly in terms of time, money and general stress. Anti-SLAPP laws were a way to deal with that unfortunately common practice usually by (1) putting the immediate burden on the plaintiff to show a likelihood of success and then dismissing the case quickly if they fail to do so, (2) halting the expensive and time-consuming discovery process, and (3) often making the plaintiffs pay the defendants’ legal fees. The idea is that this is a deterrent to frivolous lawsuits, while leaving legitimate defamation lawsuits unharmed. As we’ve pointed out for years, unfortunately, only about half of the states have such anti-SLAPP laws, of varying quality, and there is still no federal anti-SLAPP law.

      In 2013, Nevada passed one of the best anti-SLAPP laws in the country. But, by 2015, there was an effort underway to throw it out. Nevada-based lawyer, Marc Randazza, pointed out that it appeared that billionaire Steve Wynn was a driving force behind the effort to kill Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law, perhaps in response to having recently lost a defamation lawsuit in California, thanks to California’s own anti-SLAPP law. Thankfully, that effort failed.

    • Conservatives: Stop Crying Wolf On Tech Bias Or No One Will Ever Take You Seriously

      Aha! A big tech company caught red handed pushing its progressive agenda. Well…not so fast. Rather than uncovering compelling evidence of bias, this article’s author and its promoters merely reveal their ignorance of how search engines work.

      First, the author seems to conflate Google Search and Google News, two products which use different algorithms and serve different functions. Google News is a searchable news aggregator and app (with some overt editorial functions), whereas Google Search tries to give users the most useful and relevant information in response to a query.

      In order to determine what constitutes a relevant and useful result, search engines use complex algorithms to rank the quality of different pages based on a variety of signals such as keywords, authoritativeness, freshness or site architecture. A big part of this quality determination is based on outside links to a site – an idea going back to Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s work at Stanford in the late 1990s that culminated in the creation of the PageRank algorithm.

      Page and Brin realized that incoming links to a site served as a proxy for quality markers like authoritativeness, trustworthiness and popularity. Today, Google Search is much more complex, utilizing complex machine-learning functions like RankBrain and an evolving set of algorithms with names like Hummingbird, Panda, Penguin and Pigeon. However, incoming links are still a key factor. Additionally, while Google uses manual quality raters to test new algorithm changes, they do not use them on live search results.

    • Donald Trump: “Rigged” Google Search Is Hiding Positive News About Me

      Fake news and manipulated content are rapidly becoming prevalent in our daily life. While many common people have been subjected to appalling abuse and digital misinformation, the USA President himself has claimed to have become a target of “bad stories.” And this time, he has blamed Google. Look at the tweets and see it for yourself.

    • How To Get Your Dissident Ideas Heard In The New Media Environment

      I often say that my long-term goal here is to become obsolete so that I can focus on making art and poetry. Ideally this will look like our society shifting to a mode of operation that is so healthy that there is no longer any demand for an Australian political blogger who points out the fact that it’s wrong to manipulate public thought with mass media and drop explosives on children, but I’ll also settle for a world in which there are enough people doing this sort of thing that I’m no longer wanted or needed in this role.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Fugitive Fraudster Who Demanded Half Of Facebook Arrested After Three Years On The Run

      It’s been a while since we last wrote about Paul Ceglia. If you don’t recall, way back in 2010, Ceglia suddenly claimed that years earlier, he had hired Mark Zuckerberg to do some software development, and bizarrely (and literally unbelievably), that part of the contract for Zuck to work on Ceglia’s project… was an agreement to hand over 50% of Facebook, which didn’t even exist yet. Making it more ridiculous, Ceglia then claimed some weird interest amounts, and therefore was demanding ownership of 84% of Facebook. The whole thing was nonsensical, and while Zuckerberg admitted he had done some work for Ceglia prior to starting Facebook, nothing about the supposed contract made any sense at all. Beyond the bizarre nature of the contract Ceglia claimed he had with Zuckerberg, it quickly became clear that other evidence Ceglia presented, including purported emails, didn’t look real.

    • Trust Us, We’re Secretly Working for a Foreign Government: How Australia’s Proposed Surveillance Laws Will Break The Trust Tech Depends On

      In the last few years, we’ve discovered just how much trust — whether we like it or not — we have all been obliged to place in modern technology. Third-party software, of unknown composition and security, runs on everything around us: from the phones we carry around, to the smart devices with microphones and cameras in our homes and offices, to voting machines, to critical infrastructure. The insecurity of much of that technology, and increasingly discomforting motives of the tech giants that control it from afar, has rightly shaken many of us.

      But latest challenge to our collective security comes not from Facebook or Google or Russian hackers or Cambridge Analytica: it comes from the Australian government. Their new proposed “Access and Assistance” bill would require the operators of all of that technology to comply with broad and secret government orders, free from liability, and hidden from independent oversight. Software could be rewritten to spy on end-users; websites re-engineered to deliver spyware. Our technology would have to serve two masters: their customers, and what a broad array of Australian government departments decides are the “interests of Australia’s national security.” Australia would not be the last to demand these powers: a long line of countries are waiting to demand the same kind of “assistance.”

      In fact, Australia is not the first nation to think of granting itself such powers, even in the West. In 2016, the British government took advantage of the country’s political chaos at the time to push through, largely untouched, the first post-Snowden law that expanded not contracted Western domestic spying powers. At the time, EFF warned of its dangers —- particularly orders called “technical capability notices”, which could allow the UK to demand modifications to tech companies’ hardware, software, and services to deliver spyware or place backdoors in secure communications systems. These notices would remain secret from the public.

    • Ron Wyden Wants The DOJ To Provide Answers On Stingray Devices’ Disruption Of Emergency Call Service

      The FBI has admitted — albeit not that publicly — that Stingray devices disrupt phone service. Spoofing a cell tower has negative effects on innocent phone users as the device plays man-in-the-middle while trying to locate the targeted device. An unsealed document from a criminal prosecution and assertions made in warrant affidavits alleging “minimal” disruption are all we have to go on, at least in terms of official statements.

      Supposedly, Stingrays are supposed to allow 911 service to continue uninterrupted. But it’s hard to square that with the fact every phone in the device’s range is forced to connect to the Stingray first before being allowed to connect with a real cell tower. In some cases, the device might force every phone in range to drop to a 2G connection. This may still allow 911 calls to take place, but almost any other form of communication will be impossible as long as the Stingray is in use.

      Ron Wyden’s staff technologist, Chris Soghoian (formerly of the ACLU), will be fielding answers from the DOJ and FBI about 911 service disruptions, if those answers ever arrive. Wyden’s office has sent a letter [PDF] demanding to know the extent of cell service disruption when Stingrays are deployed. And he’d also like to know if these agencies are being honest about the negative side effects when agents seek warrants.

    • Sen. Wyden Confirms Cell-Site Simulators Disrupt Emergency Calls

      It is striking, but unfortunately not surprising, that law enforcement has been allowed to use these technologies and has continued to use them despite the significant and undisclosed risk to public safety posed by disabling 911 service, not to mention the myriad privacy concerns related to CSS use. What’s more, a cell-site simulator wouldn’t just disrupt service for the specific person or persons being tracked but would likely disrupt service for every mobile device in the area as it tricks every phone in the area into connecting to the fake base station in search of the target phone. This could be especially dangerous during a natural disaster when IMSI catchers are being used to locate missing persons in damaged buildings or other infrastructure, cutting off 911 service at a time like that could be a grave danger to others trapped in dangerous situations.

      Harris Corporation claims that they have the ability to detect and deliver calls to 911, but they admit that this feature hasn’t been tested. Put bluntly, there is no way for the public or policy makers to know if this technology works as intended. Thanks to the onerous non-disclosure agreements that customers of Harris Corp and other CSS vendors’ customers have regularly been required to enter into there is very little public information about how CSS work and what their capabilities are. Even if a security researcher did audit a CSS, the results would be unlikely to ever see the light of day.

      Furthermore, even if Harris’ technology works the way they claim it does, they are far from the only manufacturer of CSS devices. There are several other companies that manufacture such technology and we know even less about the workings of their technologies or whether they have any protections against blocking 911 calls. Cell-site simulators are now easy to acquire or build, with homemade devices costing less than $1000 in parts. Criminals, spies, and anyone else with malicious intent could easily build a CSS specifically to disrupt phone service, or use it without caring whether it disrupts 911 service.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • American Muslim Challenges Warrantless Border Device Search From An Unexpected Legal Angle

      This motion is normally used in criminal cases to argue for the return of property seized by the government. Lazoja was never accused of a crime, nor was she given any justification for the phone search. Her phone was returned to her intact 130 days[!] after it was seized, so she technically has her property back already. But with the help of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (last seen challenging the TSA’s suspicionless surveillance program “Quiet Skies”), Lazoja is hoping to force the federal government to delete any of her data it still has in its possession.

      The motion [PDF] details Lazoja’s experience with US customs officials, who took her into a room and demanded she unlock her phone for them. She refused, so the CBP seized it, giving her a receipt for her phone and sent her on her way without her personal property. Lazoja alleges a number of Constitutional violations and cites recent phone-related Supreme Court decisions, but it’s unlikely these arguments will be availing, what with the courts’ deference to the government’s assertions that border security trumps individual rights.

    • Suspected CIA black site in Thailand to become tourist destination

      Not many tourist attractions promote themselves by saying “there’s nothing to see here”. But the Ramasun Camp Historical Museum in north-eastern Thailand isn’t your average destination: it’s among the locations suspected of hosting a CIA black site and secret torture prison.

    • CIA ‘black site’ in Thailand where terrorists linked to 9/11 and the Bali bombings ‘were waterboarded and tortured’ opens to tourists
    • More Than 60 Years After His Brutal Murder, Emmett Till Deserves Justice

      The Justice Department has reopened the Emmett Till case at a time when we’re constantly reminded of how much racial injustice persists in the US.

      Sixty-three years ago, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley made the unbearably painful decision to have an open coffin funeral for her 14-year-old son Emmett. On Aug. 28, 1955, Emmett was tortured and murdered by white men in Mississippi for allegedly acting disrespectfully toward a white woman.

      The sight of Emmett’s body, mutilated beyond recognition, spread throughout the world in photographs published in Jet Magazine and other outlets. The shocking sight so outraged people in the United States and in other countries that it helped spark the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. That outrage did nothing to assure accountability for Till’s death — no one was ever found guilty in spite of confessions in Look Magazine by one of the murderers.

      In July, the United States Department of Justice announced that an investigation of Emmett Till’s lynching will be reopened. Skepticism about the motives of the administration and the fact that such an investigation is decades late does not change the fact that a new, credible investigation is sorely needed as a necessary examination of the inexcusable racism that existed in 1955 and, sadly, persists today.

      Till’s murder was not the aberrational act of two men whose behavior fell outside of the norms of society. It was instead just one of a long series of examples of racial violence perpetrated in the name of preserving white supremacy and protecting white women from black men. Given the accusation that Till had wolf-whistled at the white wife of one of the murderers, it was not surprising that violence would result in 1955 Mississippi. Nor was it a surprise that an all-white, all-male jury would refuse to hold the white defendants responsible for the murder despite clear and convincing evidence of their guilt.

    • FBI, Border Patrol Bypass Hate Groups As Leading Perpetrators Of Anti-Muslim Incidents

      The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed suit on August 8 against Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other federal agencies, which it accuses of creating “a kind of second-class citizenship” for American Muslims.

      The lawsuit argues these agencies use an interagency watchlisting system that separates American Muslims from their children, denies them employment opportunities, prevents them from traveling by air, and rejects or delays their immigration benefits.

      CAIR’s challenge comes months after an annual report on the status of civil rights for Muslims in the United States, which found more Islamophobic episodes were instigated by federal agencies than either hate groups or individual bigots.

      The report, based on complaints made to or investigated by CAIR, found the number of anti-Muslim incidents rose 17 percent between 2016 and 2017. It described some of the personal experiences of discrimination.

    • Embattled Garbage Hauler Co-Owns Dump With Person Expelled From Trash Industry, Records Show

      On Friday, the agency that oversees New York City’s commercial trash industry suspended the license of Sanitation Salvage, saying the Bronx company posed an “imminent danger to life and property” after two fatal accidents and a spate of other collisions. The agency outlined a pattern of unsafe practices including unlicensed vehicle operators, drivers working excessive hours and high rates of failed safety inspections for Sanitation Salvage trucks.

      But a ProPublica review of records shows that the oversight agency may have overlooked another potential impropriety hiding in plain sight: The owners of Sanitation Salvage are co-owners of a Bronx garbage dump with a person who was expelled from New York City’s commercial trash industry years ago.

      State and city records show that the Squitieri brothers, who run Sanitation Salvage, jointly own Metropolitan Transfer Station with Rosemarie Isabella, who was a principal of Isabella City Carting. In 2013, the Business Integrity Commission, or BIC, the city agency charged with oversight of private trash companies, revoked Isabella City Carting’s license, citing its long and troubled history in the mob-controlled industry and the fact that the company’s barred founder was still actively collecting payments from its clients.

    • Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Move Along’ By Sihasin

      Several hundred immigrant children remain in the custody of the United States government, separated from their parents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department have escalated the war on immigrants by deciding domestic violence and gang violence are no reason to grant individuals asylum. The family of a child that died shortly after she was released from the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a $40 million lawsuit.

      To challenge the anti-immigrant policies of the government under President Donald Trump, a collective of artists compiled songs for an album called “Never Illegal.”

      “Never Illegal” is a “collective statement from artists across the U.S. that we are better than the events that are taking place at the Mexican border. No human being is never illegal, and no child should ever be separated from their loving parents,” the album’s Bandcamp page states.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • When ISPs Tell Seniors Net Neutrality Laws Will Increase Their Bills, They’re Lying and Losing

      The fight to secure net neutrality protections for Californians keeps showing how far ISPs and their surrogates will go to make a buck off of ending the free and open Internet. The latest maneuver is a flood of deceptive robocalls targeting seniors and stating that net neutrality will raise their cell phone bills by $30 a month and slow down the Internet. It’s not just a lie, it’s proof that you’ve successfully put them on the defensive by contacting your representatives about net neutrality.

      The robocalls don’t mention net neutrality by name. Instead, they simply assert that S.B. 822 will raise their bills and slow down their Internet. If ISPs decided to make this true by coordinating to raise prices in reaction to net neutrality legislation it would probably be illegal under federal antitrust law. There is no evidence that says net neutrality harms ISPs to the point where they must raise prices to make money. In fact, the evidence says the exact opposite. The fact that this is even possible reveals that we seriously lack sufficient competition in the wireless market. Such intentional misrepresentations demonstrate the extent major ISPs oppose any legal requirements to keep the Internet free and open, even after it has been discovered that they would go so far as to upsell public safety during an emergency in California.

      The thing is, we know that none of these large companies is operating on so small a margin that complying with net neutrality would “force” them to raise their prices. We also know net neutrality rules have never raised their operational costs. We know these things because the evidence is already publicly available.

    • Verizon couldn’t have restricted Santa Clara County’s internet service during the fires under net neutrality

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his staff are fond of taking to Twitter to assert that, in the just over two months since the repeal of the FCC’s 2015 network neutrality rules took effect, the “Internet remains free and open” — and that opponents’ concerns that unconstrained broadband providers will act in a way that harms consumers and competition are overblown. The 2015 rules prohibited broadband providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T from picking winners and losers by blocking, throttling or otherwise discriminating against or favoring certain Internet traffic.

    • Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For The FCC, FTC To Punish Verizon For Screwing Firefighters

      We’ve noted how the telecom industry been having great success in the Trump era eliminating FCC, FTC, and state authority over telecom monopolies. The underlying industry justification is that gutting consumer protections will somehow magically improve competition and spur investment by regional telecom monopolies, a decades-old claim that has never been true, and yet somehow never dies. In reality, when you kill regulatory oversight of natural monopolies (without shoring up the underlying competition issues beneath), the problem only tends to get worse. It’s something you probably noticed if you’ve had any interactions with Comcast lately.

      Last week the perils in this particular course of action were laid bare when Verizon was busted first throttling and then trying to upsell first responders while they were trying to combat wildfires in California. Gigi Sohn, one of the ex-FCC staffers that helped craft the rules, did a good job pointing out how the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order didn’t just kill net neutrality,

  • DRM
    • Denuvo Announces Plan To Fail To Combat Online Game Cheaters After Failing To Stop Piracy With Its DRM

      On the one hand, look, cheaters in online games suck out loud. These cheaters break the online gaming experience for all the non-cheaters out there. Perhaps more importantly, anti-cheating software is going to become a very real market ripe to be exploited, given the explosive growth in competitive online eSports and online gaming in general. If any company or group of companies could manage to end this infestation for gamers, they’d deserve a hero’s parade.

      On the other hand: this is Denuvo. Few companies have rivaled Denuvo’s boisterous claims and posture coupled with the failure of its product. It would be very easy to change out the references to anti-cheating software in the Irdeto quote above and replace them with references to Denuvo’s DRM and map that onto how Denuvo talked about its DRM product but a few years ago. Same promises, different product. I can only assume that anyone partnering with Irdeto for Denuvo anti-cheating software are basing that decision more on the reputation of Irdeto than Denuvo.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Brazil’s patent backlog may resolve without fast-track procedure

      Forces against Brazil’s patent system may have killed the proposal to fast-track pending applications, but examiners’ individual productivity could solve the backlog in the long term

    • Trademarks
      • Tai Chi Tea: Beware of TM Infringement

        A difficulty here is that Zheng Cai represented himself pro se and did not exactly follow either TTAB or Federal Circuit procedure. In particular, Cai presented a set of factual assertions and images in his brief, but did not follow the particular brief filing rules. Because of the procedural failure, the TTAB refused to consider the materials presented — finding that Mr. Cai “introduced no evidence.” As Manafort can attest — it is difficult to win a case without presenting any evidence.

    • Copyrights
      • Honest Government Ads Takes On EU Parliament’s Plan To Censor The Internet With Article 13

        If you’re in the EU and this kind of clueless, dangerous regulating concerns you, speak out now. If you’re not in the EU, it still helps to speak out about this. Contact the EU Parliament or just spread the word so that others know just how much damage the EU may do to the internet if this moves forward.

      • How The EU May Be About To Kill The Public Domain: Copyright Filters Takedown Beethoven

        Over in the EU Parliament, they’re getting ready to vote yet again on the absolutely terrible Copyright Directive, which has serious problems for the future of the internet, including Article 13′s mandatory censorship filters and Article 11′s link tax. Regrading the mandatory filters, German music professor Ulrich Kaiser, has written about a a very disturbing experiment he ran on YouTube, in which he kept having public domain music he had uploaded for his students get taken down by ContentID copyright claims.

      • Save the date: CC Global Summit is happening May 9-11 in Lisbon!

        Since 2015, the CC Summit has nearly doubled in size. We’ve lined up two great venues to host this international event. Workshops, talks, planning sessions, and small group sessions will be held in Museu do Oriente, a vibrant new museum in a refurbished industrial building on the Alcântara Waterfront. Our keynotes and our Friday night party will be held at Cineteatro Capitólio, a major Art Deco cultural landmark that recently reopened its doors. The event will be co-hosted by CC and CC Portugal, and we owe tremendous gratitude to the CC Portugal team for their insight and assistance. We also want to congratulate and thank Teresa Nobre and Timothy Vollmer, our Program Committee Chairs, for stepping up to lead our community planning.

      • US Copyright Office Review Board denies UEFA copyright protection over Starball logo

        Although the World Cup is over, this Kat can’t keep his mind off thinking about MORE football … or soccer (as Americans call it).

        In 2016, the Union des Associations Européennes de Footbal (UEFA) filed an application with the US Copyright Office to have the famous Starball logo registered as a copyright work of two-dimensional visual art. The Starball logo is composed of a round ball, made up of black stars, with white polygons in the negative space between the stars. The shapes are arranged into a circular space, with the outer stars curved to follow the circumference (see below).

      • USTR: Mexico Agrees To Raise IP Enforcement Standards With The US

        Mexico and the United States have reached a preliminary agreement to raise standards of enforcement of intellectual property rights, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). Among the terms, the agreement appears to toughen requirements for internet service providers in protecting against copyright theft and extend copyright terms, and might make it harder for Mexico to agree elsewhere to strengthen its protection of geographical indications.

      • US Trade Rep Appears To Misreport Its Own Trade Agreement To Include Copyright Extension

        Soooooooo, you’ve probably heard the news on Monday about how the Trump adminstration had struck a preliminary trade agreement with Mexico to replace NAFTA. Most of the attention over the deal has to do with the lack of Canada being a part of it, with Mexico making it clear it still thought that this was a new deal with both the US and Canada and President Trump repeatedly acting as if this deal was a “take it or leave it” deal for Canada, and if they left it, it would just be US and Mexico.

        There will, of course, be plenty of time to dig into the details of what’s in the actual agreement, but on stuff that matters to us, it already looks bizarre. The USTR put out a “fact sheet” about the intellectual property part of the agreement and it’s causing quite a bit of consternation. In particular, it claims that copyright will be extended to life+75 years. Literally no one has been asking for this. While the movie and recording industries have pushed to extend copyrights in the past, this time around, they more or less acknowledged that it was a bridge too far to keep extending copyrights this long, and some have even expressed a willingness to shorten copyright terms.

        But there’s been a lot of confusion about what the “life+75 years” even means here — and it now seems quite likely that the USTR simply misunderstood its own agreement (yes, really). Current in the US, for works made for hire or corporate works, copyright lasts 95 years, and for those made by individuals, it’s life+70 years. In Mexico, it’s been an upward ratchet from life+50 years, to life+75 years, to life+100 years as of 2003. There were some stories that during TPP negotiations, Mexico had pushed for life+100 years in the US as well, but that seemed like a non-starter.

        So why would the USTR give an okay for life+75 years when basically no one in the US is still pushing for such a thing, and in fact seem to be in general agreement that, if anything, the term should go in the other direction? Either the USTR negotiators have no idea what they’re doing (possible!), don’t realize why this is a big deal (also possible) or are misreporting what’s actually in the agreement. It appears the last one is likely. While the USTR told reporters on a call that they absolutely mean extending copyright to life+75 years, after that, USTR representatives started claiming that this is not an extension of copyright, but was merely supposed to be setting the floor on copyright terms of 75 years, not “life plus 75 years,” in which case copyright wouldn’t change in either country. But, because this administration appears to be so clueless, someone at the USTR may have taken this news and mistakenly claimed it was now life plus 75, rather than a 75 year floor.

      • New Campaign Aims to “Save Music” Ahead of EU Copyright Filter Vote

        In just 15 days’ time, MEPs will again vote on the now-controversial copyright proposals of Article 13. The legislation would see platforms such as YouTube compelled to introduce upload filters, to prevent unlicensed content being offered to the public. The new ‘Love Music’ campaign, supported by powerful industry players, aims to ensure a thumbs-up from MEPs. But the opposition is out, in force

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  • Streaming RNNs in TensorFlow
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